Sunday, December 16, 2007

Just Askin'

(Road Warrior Stocking Stuffer? Caffeinated sugar-free mints. See last item.)

--Who's supposed to fix the technology for the air traffic control system? The F.A.A., which talks an awfully good game and yet continually fails to deliver desperately needed new technology to manage crowded skies. The F.A.A. has a much-publicized Web page for checking the real-time delay conditions at U.S. airports: -- click the "Airport Status and Delays" link at the top right for a map showing major airports and (supposedly) their current operational status. Trouble is, the thing seldom works. More often than not, the map is as frozen as the air-traffic system.

--Who's counting? I know I sound like a broken record on this, but reporters really ought to be paying more attention to mounting flight cancellations. All the media ducks are quacking over Kennedy because they're being told to by the authorities, but it's O'Hare where the mess has been piling up for the last month every time bad weather smacks the Midwest. Yesterday, there were 398 cancelled departures and arrivals at O'Hare. Of the 1,904 flights that did take off or land there, 1,487 were delayed -- 1,006 of them by 45 minutes or more. Stats as usual from [Update: As of 8 p.m. Eastern time tonight, just about half of the 890 flights scheduled for Boston departures and arrivals had been cancelled.)

--Is there no dumb-ass local police stunt that small-town papers won't treat credulously? As security expert Bruce Schneier points out , this is a very good way to alert thieves that you have something possibly worth stealing in the car.

--Speaking of local papers, can the Iowa and New Hampshire primaries come soon enough? After that, the national media can stop pretending that the journalistic sad-sacks who run the editorial boards at poor-quality newspapers in Des Moines and Manchester actually have compelling to say.

--What in the world accounts for all of the gushing reviews of the movie "Waitress." Saw it last night on DVD, and my report can be paraphrased from the reaction of Dorothy Parker, dismayed at the infantile cuteness in a Winnie-the-Pooh book she was reviewing: I fwowed up. O.K., the pies in the diner were pretty. But Jayzus, was no reviewer even remotely troubled by the sweetly-presented in-office affair between the sorowful pregnant waitress and her gynecologist? In most jurisdictions, the district attorney and the medical board both would have had a term for this bum: sexual predator. (I know the writer-director, Adrienne Shelly, was tragically murdered just before the movie was released. Doesn't make the movie any more tolerable, though.)

--Stocking stuffer for a hard-core business traveler? These things have been around for a while, but I just discovered Penguin Caffeinated Peppermints, in a black tin box that advises on the back: "3 Penguins are the caffeine equivalent of 1 cola beverage." Sugar-free, too. They also come in chocolate and cinnamon flavors. By an outfit called ifive brands in Seattle. Web site



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