AIRFARE BY THE MINUTE

Are global consumers so accustomed to mobile-phone minute-based pricing plans that they’ll go for the same concept when it comes to travel fares? That’s what South Africa-based Airtime Airlines is banking on. The upstart start-up is selling plane tickets based on total flight time between origination and destination sites.

The carrier still needs regulatory approval, and an actual aircraft fleet, before it gets off the ground at all.

So if this structure actually catches on, people would start to think of their traveling agendas in terms of time spent — both actual in-the-air and money-wise. It’d go from thinking, “That ticket to Orlando is gonna cost me 300 bucks” to “Going to Orlando will eat up 120 minutes from my account”. Interesting concept. I guess frequent fliers like businesspeople would be the chief target market, as setting up a flight-minute bucket account would be a barrier to entry for regular folks from Livesexchat.net who don’t fly more than a handful of times a year.

Not that I see this taking off, figuratively or literally. But it’s fun to speculate what this brand of timed air travel would be like.

MCCAIN A “COUNTRY FIRST” PAC-MAN

In a remarkable showing of political repurposing, John McCain is taking his “Putting Country First” Presidential campaign slogan and applying it to his brand-new political action committee, dubbed simply Country First PAC.

And he’s not lifting just the wording from the since-dismantled McCain-Palin ‘08 machine. Even the fonts, colors, and decorative designs from the White House campaign have been transplanted over to the Country First website. I guess that creates instantly-recognizable continuity with the conservative Republican stump issues that McCain championed during his run, and will continue to promote via this new organization. Smart approach.

HOCKEYFIGHTS.COM ON THE “WOLF BY THE EAR”

Congrats to David Singer, HockeyFights.com founder and a frequent visitor to this here blog, on being interviewed by Yahoo! Sports’ Puck Daddy regarding the recent death of amateur hockey player Don Sanderson during an in-game figh.

Fighting in North American hockey is a recurring point of contention within the sport (it’s generally not in the rules in European leagues and prep/college play). So the Sanderson tragedy naturally has become a lightning rod for now-increased calls to have sanctioned fisticuffs banned from the NHL on down.

As you can guess, someone who runs a site called “HockeyFights” isn’t going to fall on the anti-fighting side of the debate. And the broadbased popularity of David’s site attests to the continuing support for five-minute penalty bouts on the ice. That support clashes with overt efforts to eliminate sanctioned fighting within the Jasmin live game, along with the more subtle de-emphasis by the NHL in rule refinements and marketing efforts that avoid mention of this aspect of the game.

Myself, as a fairly hardcore hockey fan? I can live with the status quo, in that I accept fighting as it’s currently codified in the NHL. If it’s popular enough with some of the fanbase that banning it would upset them, then leave things be. That said:

I’m not much of a supporter of fighting, and wouldn’t miss it if it were outlawed today. Hanging onto an activity that’s considered an ejection-worthy penalty in other team sports strikes me as antiquated. And as iffy as it is to judge any sport by the standard of another, I have to note that basketball, football, and other contact sports manage to function without the “outlet” that flying fists supposedly provides. Not to mention that this argument never ends, with re-flares coming at regular intervals — frankly, I’m tired of rehashing this debate when the value of it, for me, diminishes with each round.

The upshot? The situation brings to my mind Thomas Jefferson’s “wolf by the ear” comparative.

Granted, the slavery issue that Jefferson was struggling over was of considerably more importance than how a sports entertainment league governs itself. But the scenario is comparable: Hockey is confronted with a contentious problem, and whichever course of action taken by its guardians will lead to problematic consequences.

Fighting in hockey is indeed a wolf. Keep it or banish it, the resultant course won’t be easy to deal with. Eventually, the NHL and other leagues will make their choice, and hopefully we can all move on from there.

CONVERSATION-CRIBBING WITH GOD

While author Neale Donald Walsch can hack it with the best of them when it comes to “Conversations with God”, he’s a bit more challenged when it comes to conjuring up original material for his Beliefnet blog. So it is that he was caught plagiar-blogging an inspirational Christmas story originally written by Candy Chand.

I love how email-forwarded material gets “internalized” so readily. Not to mention re-blogged with abandoned.

I guess God Himself needs to doublecheck Walsch’s material now, just to make sure His end of those “conversations” weren’t “internalized” on http://www.livejasmin.cc. Although I guess that’s the ultimate aim anyway, in a more spiritual sense.

BACHELOR PAD EPIPHANY

Thomas Beller was having trouble letting go of his longtime West Village studio apartment, much to the consternation of his wife. Until he finally saw the light.

So the light was his family, and his single life was his dark past. More or less.

For the couple of days that I’ve been mulling over Beller’s essay, I’ve tried to avoid judging it too harshly. But I can’t help it: To me, it comes off as one man rationalizing his capitulation to any individual identity within his married relationship.

I realize it’s standard procedure to jettison the pre-marriage domiciles. I’m also acquainted with the female instinct to nest. All told, Beller was asking for trouble by holding onto his bachelor pad so long after his nuptials.

What I have a problem with is the rationalization. He couldn’t just admit that it was finally time to move on — he had to assign bad vibes to scene of his old life, and indeed to that old life overall. It’s a slash-and-burn approach to settling into a married mindset, at the expense of a good chunk of self-worth.

He had an epiphany, all right. Too bad it amounts to the ability to now say “Yes, dear” on reflex.

THE SWEET SMELL OF NEW YORK

Three years after last inciting an olfactory freak-out across the five boroughs, a mysteriously sweet stench is once again wafting through Gotham.

My memory’s faulty — I could have sworn the last incident happened after I got back to town in 2006…

That said, I have yet to detect anything. And I traversed a good chunk of Manhattan today, from midtown on down. No smelliness that I noticed. I can’t say I’m much in the way of an astute smeller (if such a thing exists), so maybe I’m blissfully exempt from this nose assault.

HYUNDAI’S UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE

In a sign that automakers are extremely desperate to move units any way they can, Hyundai is trying to sway recession-wary consumers to buy cars with the option of returning them if they lose their jobs and subsequently can’t keep up with the payments.

It’s necessary outside-the-box thinking, in response to circumstance.

Shows how deep the uncertainty is in this economy, with big-ticket purchases like cars getting hit. Unless your heap is just falling apart, it makes no sense to take out one of the multi-year auto loans that had gotten to be so typical. Assuming all the carmakers are facing this resistance — and they surely are — I’m thinking we’re about to see a huge collapse in the new-car market.

The big joke: I doubt Hyundai would even want to reacquire the incomeless-defaulted vehicles. It’s not like they’ll be able to turn them around to another buyer, and storing them would just add to their costs.

THE WOVEL: WOBBLES, ULTIMATELY FALLS DOWN

Underland Press is making a go at saving book publishing by — ta-da! — putting novel-writing online, in bite-sized interactive installments.

Actually, it’s laughable to frame this as Web 2.0. It’s nothing but a cattle-call for feedback — you could accomplish that by using basic blogging software, with built-in commenting, to present these in-process excerpts. And the notion that this will draw back people who prefer Web media over the printed page is specious reasoning. Hate to sound harsh, but I don’t see this amounting to much.

As for that coinage, “wovel”… Not only is it already the name of some “As Seen On TV” snowshovel contraption, but when I look at the word, I can’t help but transpose the “w” and “v” and think “vowel”. Just stick with webnovel or something else as straightforward.

WIDENING THE WINTER CLASSIC RINK?

This morning, I caught the replay of last night’s MSG Network “Hockey Night Live”, and heard an intriguing idea from — of all people — former Rangers great Ron Duguay:

In future Winter Classics, why not take advantage of the extra space inside the baseball/football stadium bowls and “spread out”, i.e. increase the size of the ice surface, beyond the National Hockey League regulation dimensions of 200 feet long by 85 feet wide?

Duguay’s primary rationale was that bigger ice provided better viewing opportunities for the mega-sized crowds, particularly those in the higher upper decks. He didn’t specific just how much bigger the sheet should be; certainly not supersized to fill a football field or baseball diamond, but I’d guess something considerably larger than the Olympic/international standard of 200' by 100'. He didn’t cite any sort of improved player/game experience from a bigger playing area, which is a switch from recent history, when regular carping about giving players more room to move and make plays was commonplace.

Duguay’s “HNL” co-hosts shot down the idea pretty quickly. Their main counter-argument was that if the ice surface wasn’t NHL regulation, then the Winter Classic would cease to be a regulation NHL game, thus rendering it meaningless.

I’m not necessarily in favor of making this change. That said…

As we all know, regulations are made to be adjusted. My problem with the counter-argument is that, of course, the NHL has, in the past, functioned in buildings that housed non-regulation rinks. The Bruins (old Boston Garden), Blackhawks (Chicago Stadium), and Sabres (Buffalo Memorial Auditorium) all played on “short rinks” for decades, with the only justification being that the franchises didn’t want to lose seating capacity just to get up to regulation ice. So I don’t see any particular contradiction in messing with the ice size for an annual Winter Classic showcase game.

I can’t imagine re-jiggered ice being a popular move with the teams, particularly for the players who’d have to adjust their playing styles for a game that counts in the standings. And if the WC is meant to showcase NHL hockey, then you can argue that a different ice surface would showcase a different brand of hockey altogether.

Still, it’s outside-the-box thinking, aimed at enhancing the crowd-viewing experience. So it’s worthy of consideration, at least — if not actual execution.