A Smatter of Opinion.
NOTE, PLEASE: This will be my last post for a few days. At 10:00 tonight I’m leaving Toronto on VIA Rail’s premier train, The Canadian. It’s a four-night trip and of course I’ll make notes and take some photographs as we go, but I really have no idea if I’ll be able to post anything before we get to Vancouver on Wednesday morning.
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To Fee or Not to Fee. Everyone knows and grumbles about the fees charged by the airlines for checking your bags and for giving you a seat with a couple of inches more legroom. But, since I always book on line, I was surprised to learn that the airlines have been charging a fee if you book a flight by phone with one of their reservations agents. But today comes news that Delta Airlines has decided to eliminate that fee and everyone in the industry is waiting to see if the other airlines will fall in line and do the same.
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Now Hear This! Not that long ago, the federal government limited the number of radio and TV stations one company could own. Not any more. Today, one company, iHeartMedia, owns 850 radio stations. And also not long ago, it was unheard of for one company to own more than one television station in a single market. Today, in Honolulu, two TV stations share one news department. And so we have a handful of corporations with the power to control what most of us see and hear. Oh well … at least those broadcast moguls don’t have to bother with a lot of annoying government regulation.
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Word of Mouth Is Best. I ride the California Zephyr once or twice a year and have noticed that as the train approaches Grand Junction, Colorado, the Amtrak conductors–on the PA system to announce the station–always seem to mention the souvenir shop in the station. The shop itself is small, dingy inside, and doesn’t have much of an inventory … mostly cheap souvenirs. I’m not implying anything here. Just curious.
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A Taste of Heaven. Speaking of Grand Junction, several years ago during the Zephyr’s stop there, I bought and ate a fresh peach from a vendor on the platform. It was the single, most delicious piece of fruit I have experienced in my lifetime, either before or since. But before I could run back and buy a couple more for the rest of the trip, the conductor called “All Aboard”. I damn near cried.
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And Walter Cronkite Wept. A week or so ago, an Amtrak train in the Northeast Corridor hit a piece of maintenance equipment, killing two workers. Elsewhere in the country on that same day, an Amtrak train hit a truck that had driven around the barriers, past the flashing red lights and onto the tracks. Luckily, no one was hurt. That story ran in a number of midwest newspapers under the following headline:
TWO AMTRAK CRASHES IN ONE DAY.
Looking for an example of the sad state of journalism in today’s America? Well, there you have it.