The wife of a friend of mine once asked him, “Does this new dress make my ass look big?” He started off well by replying, “No, of course not, Darling, the dress is lovely.” And if he’d left it at that he would have scored lots of plus points, but then he added the fateful line, “You’ve just got a big ass!”
I may have told you that story before and I may well tell it again, because it’s funny and it’s true. This time it is by way of introduction to today’s post – or rant – on the subject of airline seats. I’ve already given you my two cent’s worth on airfares a few days ago. (Click here if you want to read that.)
Just when you thought they couldn’t get any smaller, or more uncomfortable, airlines are shrinking seat widths yet again to squeeze more passengers in and more money out of them. The latest culprit is Airbus, which unveiled a new 11 seat-per-row reconfiguration for its A380 superjumbo jet.
The Airbus A380 currently seats ten passengers uncomfortably per row in economy in a 3-4-3 configuration, but the new configuration adds yet another seat to the middle section to make it a 3-5-3 – with even less room per passenger and even more discomfort.
Airbus are making the excuse that the seats in the new configuration will be the same width as before, which is 18 inches or 46 cms, but then they add the qualifying word “technically” which means whilst what they are saying may be true in theory, in practice you the paying passenger will have less room.
Applying fasab logic to the situation, if you raise an airplane’s seating capacity from 525 seats to 544 seats, and at the same time you don’t make the airplane any bigger, then there is less room for the poor abused passengers. (quod erat demonstrandum or Q.E.D.)
The A380’s main users are Emirates, Singapore Airlines, Lufthansa and Qantas, all of them long-haul carriers meaning you will be squashed up like a sardine for at least eight hours, maybe much, much longer which adds greatly to the discomfort experienced by passengers.
Other long-haul airplanes that are shrinking the width of their seats include the new models of the Boeing 777, many of which are flown by United and American Airlines. They will now come with a squashingly miserable 17 in. seat width.
The seat squashing trend started with the short-haul airlines and they got away with it because of the relatively short journey times. Long-haul is different – much different – and passengers should be less willing to endure many hours of discomfort.
To add a great big insult to this injurious trend, it is all taking place against a backdrop of decreasing fuel costs and rising airfares – in other words more greed than need on behalf of the airline companies who buy these newly configured butt busters.
On the plus side – for passengers – not a single airline placed an order for the world’s two biggest commercial jets, the Boeing 747-8 and the double-decker Airbus A380 during 2014. In fact most of the Boeing 747-8s that have been sold have been mainly the air freighter version. On the negative side, as just mentioned, airplanes like the 777 are also to be made much more uncomfortable too.
With air travel forecast to more than double from today’s 3.3 billion passengers a year to 7.3 billion by 2034 – according to the International Air Transport Association – I fear greatly for the comfort of those of us flying economy.
The first day of May, or ‘May Day’ as it is also known, is a curious mixture of superstition, social protest (Labor Day) and celebration.
May Day is also the 121st day of the year and marks the midpoint between spring and summer, occurring exactly half a year from November 1st.
Like most of the occasions we have now (Easter, Christmas, etc.), May Day started out as a pagan celebration. Its origins go back thousands of years to the Celtic period, where towns and villages would come together to celebrate springtime fertility, and rejoice in the beauty of spring and optimism of life. The energy of these gatherings was supposed to help inspire procreation.
During the 1600s, May Day festivities were prohibited and in 1640 the Church in England ruled against the debauchery and the British Parliament banned the traditions as immoral. A much tamer version was brought back in 1644 under the rule of Charles II.
Maypoles were devised as (phallic) symbols of fertility, but were also symbolic of the “world tree,” which was supposed to bridge the gap between heaven and earth. There are also rumors that this was the last chance for fairies to travel to the earth.
Today, May Day is probably best known in most countries for the tradition of ‘dancing round the maypole’ and the crowning of a ‘May Queen’.
Flowers also play an important part in May Day celebrations. Native Americans even called May the month of the flower moon, believing that flowers would dance under the full moon. And ancient Romans dedicated May Day to Flora, the goddess of flowers.
In Italy, May Day is still regarded by some as the happiest day of the year.
Since 1928, May Day in Hawaii has been known as ‘Lei Day’, a spring celebration that embraces Hawaiian culture and in particular, the lei. The holiday song, “May Day is Lei Day in Hawai’i,” was originally a fox trot, but was later rearranged as a Hawaiian hula.
Listed below are some of the historical events that happened on May Day that I found interesting. Hope you do too.
But just before you start those, a word about something that has nothing whatever to do with May Day although many people believe that it has. The international distress signal is often referred to s a “mayday” signal but this is not a reference to the first day of May. The name derives from the French “venez m’aider”, meaning “come help me.”
Now you know.
And now for the real facts.
Historical Events that happened on various May 1st’s
1006 – A Supernova was observed by Chinese & Egyptians astronomers in the constellation Lupus.
1328 – The Wars of Scottish Independence ended with the Treaty of Edinburgh-Northampton by which the Kingdom of England recognized the Kingdom of Scotland as an independent state.
1544 – Turkish troops occupied Hungary.
1682 – Louis XIV and his court inaugurated the Paris Observatory.
1703 – At the Battle at Rultusk the Swedish army defeated the Russians.
1704 – The Boston Newsletter published the first ever newspaper advertisement.
1707 – England, Wales & Scotland form the United Kingdom of Great Britain.
1751 – The first American cricket match is played.
1753 – May Day this year saw Publication of Species Plantarum by Linnaeus, and the formal start date of plant taxonomy adopted by the International Code of Botanical Nomenclature.
1759 – Josiah Wedgwood founded the Wedgwood pottery company in Great Britain.
1759 – The British fleet occupied Guadeloupe, West Indies, capturing it from France.
1776 – The secret society of the Illuminati was established in Ingolstadt (Upper Bavaria), by Jesuit-taught Adam Weishaupt.
1777 – RB Sheridan’s “School for Scandal” premiered in London.
1778 – The American Revolutionary War Battle of Crooked Billet began in Hatboro, Pennsylvania.
1786 – Mozart’s opera “Marriage of Figaro” premiered in Wien (Vienna)
1822 – John Phillips became the first mayor of Boston.
1840 – The first adhesive postage stamps, known as the “Penny Blacks”, were issued in the UK.
1841 – The first emigrant wagon train left Independence, Missouri, for California.
1844 – Samuel Morse sent his first telegraphic message.
1844 – The Hong Kong Police Force, the world’s second modern police force and Asia’s first, was established.
1850 – John Geary became the first mayor of San Francisco.
1851 – The ‘Great Exhibition’ opened in the Crystal Palace, London.
1852 – The Philippine peso is introduced into circulation.
1857 – William Walker, conqueror of Nicaragua, surrendered to the U.S. Navy.
1861 – In the American Civil War, General Lee ordered Confederate troops under T J Jackson to Harper’s Ferry.
1862 – Also in the American Civil War, Major General Benjamin Butler’s Union forces occupied New Orleans.
1863 – The Confederate ‘National Flag’ replaced the ‘Stars & Bars’.
1866 – The Memphis Race Riots began. In three days time, 46 blacks and two whites were killed. Reports of the atrocities influenced passage of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.
1866 – The American Equal Rights Association formed.
1869 – The Folies Bergère opens in Paris.
1873 – The first US postal card is issued.
1873 – Emperor Franz Jozef opened the 5th World’s Exposition in Vienna.
1875 – 238 members of the “Whiskey Ring” are accused of anti-US activities.
1883 – “Buffalo Bill” Cody put on his first Wild West Show.
1884 – Construction began on Chicago’s first skyscraper (10 stories).
1884 – May Day this year also saw the Proclamation of the demand for eight-hour workday in the United States.
1884 – Moses Walker became the first African American player in major league baseball in the US.
1885 – The original Chicago Board of Trade Building opened for business.
1886 – A general strike began in the US for an 8-hour working day.
1889 – German ompany Bayer introduced aspirin in powder form.
1900 – The Scofield Mine disaster killed over 200 men in Scofield, Utah in what was the fifth-worst mining accident in United States history.
1901 – Herb McFarland hit the first grand slam in the American League.
1908 – The world’s most intense shower (2.47″ in 3 minutes) occurred at Portobelo, Panama.
1912 – The Beverly Hills Hotel opened.
1915 – The RMS Lusitania departed from New York City, bound for Liverpool, on her two hundred and second, and final, crossing of the North Atlantic. Six days later, the ship was torpedoed off the coast of Ireland with the loss of 1,198 lives.
1920 – Babe Ruth made his first Yankee home run and the 50th of career.
1922 – Charlie Robertson of Chicago pitched a perfect no-hit, no-run game.
1925 – Cyprus became a British Crown Colony.
1927 – The first cooked meals on an airplane were introduced on on an Imperial Airways scheduled flight from London to Paris.
1930 – The dwarf planet Pluto was officially named.
1931 – The Empire State Building opened in New York City.
1935 – Boulder Dam was completed.
1935 – Canada’s first silver dollar was circulated.
1937 – FDR signed the act of neutrality.
1939 – Batman comics hit street.
1940 – The 1940 Olympics were cancelled because of WWII.
1941 – ‘Citizen Kane’, directed & starring Orson Welles, premiered in New York.
1941 – General Mills introduced Cheerios.
1944 – The world’s first operational jet-powered fighter aircraft, the Messerschmitt Me 262 Sturmvogel, makes 1st flight
1945 – A German newsreader officially announced that Adolf Hitler has “fallen at his command post in the Reich Chancellery fighting to the last breath against Bolshevism and for Germany”. The Soviet flag is raised over the Reich Chancellery, by order of Stalin.
1945 – Admiral Karl Doenitz formed the new German government.
1946 – Field Marshal Montgomery was appointed British supreme commander.
1946 – The three-year Pilbara strike of Indigenous Australians began.
1947 – Radar for commercial & private planes was first demonstrated.
1948 – North Korea proclaims itself the People’s Democratic Republic of Korea.
1952 – US Marines take part in an atomic explosion training exercise in Nevada.
1952 – Mr Potato Head was introduced.
1952 – TWA introduced tourist class.
1956 – The polio vaccine developed by Jonas Salk was made available to the public.
1956 – A doctor in Japan reported an “epidemic of an unknown disease of the central nervous system”, marking the official discovery of Minamata disease.
1957 – Larry King made his first radio broadcast.
1959 – Floyd Patterson KO’d Brian London in the 11th round for the heavyweight boxing title.
1960 – Russia shot down Francis Gary Powers’ Lockheed U-2 spy plane over Sverdlovsk in the Soviet Union, sparking a diplomatic crisis.
1961 – May Day 1961 was the date of the first US airplane being hijacked to Cuba.
1962 – The first French underground nuclear experiment took place in the Sahara, at Ecker Algeria.
1963 – James Whittaker became the first American to conquer Mount Everest.
1964 – The first BASIC program ws run on a computer at Dartmouth.
1965 – The U.S.S.R. launched its Luna 5 spacecraft which later impacted on the Moon.
1966 – Last British concert by the Beatles took place at the Empire Pool in Wembley.
1967 – Elvis Presley married Pricilla Beaulieu.
1969 – James Chichester-Clark was elected leader of the Ulster Unionist Party, and Northern Ireland Prime Minister, after succeededing Terence O’Neill.
1971 – Amtrak Railroad began operations.
1971 – The Rolling Stones released their mega-hit single “Brown Sugar”.
1978 – Ernest Morial, the first black mayor of New Orleans is inaugurated.
1978 – Japan’s Naomi Uemura, travelling by dog sled, became the first person to reach the North Pole alone.
1979 – Elton John became the first pop star to perform in Israel.
1981 – Tennis player Billie Jean King acknowledged a lesbian relationship with Marilyn Barnett – becoming first prominent sportswoman to ‘come out’.
1984 – Great Britain performed a nuclear test at a Nevada Test Site.
1985 – US President Ronald Reagan ended the embargo against Nicaragua.
1986 – Russian news agency Tass reported the Chernobyl nuclear power plant disaster.
1989 – The 135 acre Disney MGM studio officially opened to the public.
1991 – The Angolan civil war ended.
1993 – There was a bomb attack on the Sri Lankan president in which 26 people died.
1994 – Three-time Formula One world champion Ayrton Senna was killed in an accident during the San Marino Grand Prix at Imola.
1997 – Howard Stern Radio Show premiered in San Diego, CA, on KIOZ 105.3 FM.
1997 – Tony Blair was elected Prime Minister of UK.
1999 – The body of British climber George Mallory was found on Mount Everest, 75 years after his disappearance in 1924.
2003 – In what became known as the “Mission Accomplished” speech, U.S. President George W. Bush declared on board the USS Abraham Lincoln off the coast of California, that “major combat operations in Iraq have ended”.
2009 – Same-sex marriage was legalized in Sweden.
2011 – U.S. President Barack Obama announced that Osama bin Laden, founder of the militant Islamist group Al-Quaeda and the suspected mastermind behind the September 11 attackshad been killed by United States special forces in Abbottabad, Pakistan. Due to the time difference between the United States and Pakistan, bin Laden was actually killed on May 2.
2012 – Guggenheim Partners made the largest ever purchase of a sports franchise after buying the Los Angeles Dodgers for $2.1 billion.
2013 – A digital camera was created that could mimic insect compound eyes.
People you might have heard of who were born on May 1st include,
1594 – John Haynes, English-American politician, 1st Governor of the Colony of Connecticut (d. 1653)
1769 – Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, Irish-English field marshal and politician, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (d. 1852)
1852 – Calamity Jane, American scout (d. 1903)
1916 – Glenn Ford, Canadian-American actor (d. 2006)
1919 – Lewis Hill, American broadcaster, co-founded Pacifica Radio (d. 1957)
1923 – Joseph Heller, American author and playwright (d. 1999)
1925 – Scott Carpenter, American commander, pilot, and astronaut (d. 2013)
1937 – Una Stubbs, English actress and dancer
1939 – Judy Collins, American singer-songwriter and guitarist
1945 – Rita Coolidge, American singer-songwriter
1946 – Joanna Lumley, English actress
1946 – John Woo, Hong Kong director, producer, and screenwriter
1954 – Ray Parker, Jr., American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and producer (Raydio)
1967 – Scott Coffey, American actor, director, producer and screenwriter
People you might have heard of who died on May 1st include,
1731 – Johann Ludwig Bach, German violinist and composer (b. 1677)
1873 – David Livingstone, Scottish missionary (b. 1813)
1945 – Joseph Goebbels, German politician, Chancellor of Germany (b. 1897)
1985 – Denise Robins, English journalist and author (b. 1897)
2006 – Rob Lacey, English actor and author (b. 1962)
2011 – Ted Lowe, English sportscaster (b. 1920)
2011 – Henry Cooper, English boxer (b. 1934)
2014 – Howard Smith, American journalist, director, and producer (b. 1936)
Today is the fourth Thursday of November and also the last Thursday in November so whether you think Lincoln was right or Roosevelt was right, it still Thanksgiving Day in the USA.
To everyone who participates, enjoy the family holiday, eat too much and drink too much.
Last year I did what turned out to be a very popular post called “I Had To Post A Few Turkey Puns Today, Of Course They Are Fowl” ( Click here if you would like to read it.) And this year I’ve done it again.
So here are some more really bad jokes.
Enjoy or endure.
the time of year when turkeys
fatten Americans up for Christmas!
Why didn’t the Pilgrim want to make the stuffing?
Because it’s such a crummy job!
What happened when the turkey got into a fight?
He got the stuffing knocked out of him.
What kind of music did the Pilgrims like?
Plymouth Rock, of course!
What would you get if you crossed
a turkey with a baked fruit dessert?
A peach gobbler!
What’s the best dance to do on Thanksgiving?
The turkey trot
What does a Turkey drink wine in?
In a gobble-let
What did baby corn say to mama corn?
Why did the turkey sit on the tomahawk?
To try to hatchet!
Teacher: “What did the Indians bring
to the first Thanksgiving?”
they were Cleveland Indians!”
Who is the turkey’s favorite movie star?
If you divide the circumference
of a pumpkin by its diameter
Do you end up with
Can a turkey jump higher than
the Empire State Building?
Yes of course it can
– a building can’t jump at all.
Why did the pilgrim’s pants keep falling down?
Because his buckle was on his hat!
instead of talking turkey,
let’s hear someone sing turkey instead.
Take it away Dickie Stickhead
(Phew, you have to be careful how you say that name!)
Thanks for dropping by my blog this Christmas week.
If you are a regular visitor thank you for you continued support throughout the year.
A bit of a change from the usual offerings this week.
A musical treat in fact.
Here are a few Christmas Classics from bygone years. I hope you have time to listen to and enjoy them all, but even if you just want to try a few I think there will be something in this selection that you’ll like no matter what your musical tastes may be.
A Very Merry Christmas to everyone.
And, of course, enjoy the music!
.Dean Martin – Jingle Bells
Mariah Carey – All I Want For Christmas Is You
B. B. King – Merry Christmas Baby
Wizzard – I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day
The Pogues featuring Kirsty MacColl – Fairytale Of New York
John Lennon – Happy Christmas (War Is Over)
Boney M – Mary’s Boy
Wham! – Last Christmas
Chris Rea – Driving Home For Christmas
Michael Buble – It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas
Eartha Kitt – Santa Baby
Gunter Kallmann Choir – Winter Wonderland
Jim Reeves – Silent Night
Andrea Bocelli – Adeste Fideles
Sheryl Crowe And Eric Clapton – Merry Christmas Baby
Lady Gaga – Christmas Tree
U2 – Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)
Iron Maiden – Another Rock And Roll Christmas
Lynyrd Skynyrd – Christmas Time Again
Coldplay – Christmas Lights
The Darkness – Christmas Time (Don’t Let The Bells End)
My father, who I loved and respected deeply, passed quite suddenly many years ago one August 12th. Now don’t worry, tissues not required, this isn’t going to be one of those sentimental posts as you will see in a moment, just setting a principle.
You see ever since that day I always know that when August 12th comes round that is the anniversary of his passing. Not that I do much to commemorate it or anything, but every year – same date – that’s it.
So why am I talking about something that happened in mid August now at the end of March?
Well, because they tell me this weekend is Easter and that always messes with my logic circuits.
Easter is a day that is honored by nearly all of contemporary Christianity to celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, which took place on the third day after his crucifixion at Calvary.
So here’s a simple question.
If someone we know dies on a certain day of a certain month that date remains constant, it does not change, the anniversary is the same every year.
So why do we celebrate the Resurrection (death plus three days) of Jesus on such wildly varying dates?
For example in 2011 it was April 24th, last year it was April 8th, this year it is March 31st and next year it will be April 20th.
The only way that makes sense, is if the date we are told to celebrate has as little to do with the Resurrection and Christianity as have eggs, bunnies or candy.
It doesn’t seem to matter any more in America and many other western countries because the powers that be are intent on abandoning their Christian ethos for fear of offending those who refuse to abandon their religious beliefs. They are quite happy with the confusion.
It is, however, fairly clear if you do even a little bit of research on the subject, (and I encourage you to do your own research and not take my word for it), that most of the things people now commonly associate with Easter have in fact pagan, rather than Christian, origins.
And the pagan roots of Easter lie in the worship of pagan gods and in celebrating the spring equinox, which marks the end of winter and beginning of spring. Biologically and culturally, it represents for northern climates the end of a “dead” season and the rebirth of life, as well as the importance of fertility and reproduction.
References to a similar holiday have been found as far back as 2400 BC (that’s ‘B’ as in ‘before’ ‘C’ Christ) when, for example, the city of Ur apparently had a celebration dedicated to the moon and the spring equinox which was held some time during our months of March or April.“Ishtar”, which is pronounced “Easter” was a day that commemorated the resurrection of a pagan ‘god’ called “Tammuz”, who was believed to be the only begotten son of the moon-goddess and the sun-god. In other cultures he acquired different names, including “Osiris”, “Orpheus”, and “Dionysus”.
The Phrygian fertility goddess “Cybele”, was one of the most popular of these pagan gods, and worship of “Cybele” started in Rome around 200 BC. Ironically, a cult dedicated to her was even located on what is today Vatican Hill.
Even today modern Wiccans and neo-pagans celebrate “Ostara,” or “Eostre” which are derived from the Anglo-Saxon lunar goddess, “Eostre”.“Eostre’s” feast day is held on the first full moon following the vernal equinox – a similar calculation as is used for Easter among Western Christians. On this date the goddess “Eostre” is believed by her followers to mate with the solar god, conceiving a child who would be born nine months later on Yule, the winter solstice which falls on December 21st.
Two of “Eostre’s” most important symbols are the hare (both because of its fertility and because ancient people saw a hare in the full moon) and the egg, which symbolized the growing possibility of new life. Each of these symbols continues to play an important role in modern celebrations of Easter.
So Easter, like many other things the establishment encourages us to believe, is not quite what it purports to be.
I’ll leave the last word to someone smarter than me,
It has been a bit if a theme now for a while on Tuesdays to present some silly questions asked by the general public. Today we have a selection of questions that cruisers on cruises have asked of cruise crews.
Apparently you can have enough money for a cruise and still be dumb!
It really is a good job that they don’t make people walk the plank any more.
“Do you make your own electricity on board?”
“Why can’t I get cable stations?”
“Are you the Captain?” (Asked of crew who are clearly not the Captain)
“Do you actually live on this ship?”
“Do these stairs go up or down?”
“Does the crew sleep on board?”
“Could you call the captain to stop the waves? I am getting seasick.”
“I just saw the Captain in the dining room. Who is steering the ship?”
“Is the water in the toilets salty or fresh?”
“What time does the midnight buffet start?”
“What do you do with the ice sculptures after they melt?”
“Can you get these chips on land?” (Referring to casino chips)
“Why is it so windy outside?” (On a cruise liner traveling 30 miles per hour at the time)
“I see them!” (The inevitable response from a member of the crowd whenever a casino dealer on a cruise liner played a favorite joke — pointing out “penguins” on a “little piece of ice” during a cruise through Bermuda)
“So what is the elevation here?” (On an Alaskan cruise)
“Why can’t I find a USPC post box in town?” (In Ocho Rios, Jamaica)
“I want to change cabins! I paid good money for this cruise, and all I can see is a rusted crane in the harbor!” (Asked before leaving port)