Airbnb is the very popular web site that’s shaken up the hotel industry by allowing folks to easily rent out their apartment, condo, vacation home, tree house—anything suitable for lodging—to others. It turns out that prostitutes love the site, as well.
The NY Daily News broke the story that prostitution rings have been renting private residences listed on Airbnb and running prostitutes through them around the clock. As call girl told the newspaper, “It’s a lot cheaper than the Waldorf-Astoria.”
When you can rent a Manhattan apartment for $100 or $200 a day, she’s right.
In the most recent case, a New York publicist rented her apartment for a week to a woman who said she was in the Army and needed a place to stay in Manhattan before she shipped out. But when a prostitute was slashed by a client in her West 43rd St. apartment, the publicist got a call from the police, and she found clear evidence that her apartment had been used as a brothel.
To its credit, Airbnb put her up in a very nice hotel for a couple of nights while the company cleaned her apartment, changed her locks, and replaced her pillows and other belongings.
Word to the wise: Be careful out there.
The International Civil Aviation Organization said the accident rate for commercial aircraft worldwide last year was the lowest recorded since the organization began keeping statistics. With a global accident rate of 2.8 accidents per one million departures, it was a 13% decrease from 2012.
Even when there were fatal accidents around the world in 2013, the total number of deaths dropped to 173 from 388 a year earlier. Since 2009, total world-wide fatalities dropped by more than two-thirds.
In the U.S., the statistics are even better.
Over five years ending April, American carriers flew 3.7 billion passengers, or roughly 10 times the U.S. population, “without,” as the former head of safety at the Federal Aviation Administration put it, “so much as putting a scratch on anyone” who was a passenger.
Yes, three people died in that botched landing at San Francisco’s airport last year, but that was not a US airline—that was a Korean Air jet.
The disappearance of Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 was a tragedy. But statistically, flying is safer than ever.
In the 1980s, the then-head of American Airlines garnered a lot of publicity when he decided to cut costs by eliminating the single olive in every salad served in first class. Robert Crandall presumed no one would notice and that the measure would save the airline $40,000 a year.
But Mr. Crandall didn’t figure on all the publicity his modest, cost-cutting measure would receive.
Today’s olive-in-the-salad story involves limes. On your next flight, you might notice that there’s a slice of lime missing from your gin and tonic. Apparently the price of limes has been going up.
Growers in Mexico blame a reduced crop on unrest caused by drug cartels and flooding from heavy rains. In California, it’s the drought as well as a growing demand for limes for margaritas and tacos that’s reportedly driven prices of limes to a three-year high.
These days when you board a flight, you often have no idea what you’ll get. Certainly not a meal–unless you’re in the front of the plane or flying overseas. I hardly think the absence of limes is going to bother passengers. I’m so used to uneven offerings on planes that these days I almost always buy my snacks or food before boarding to carry on the plane.
A bit nervous about flying? Some estimates say one out of every four people are. Which makes even more curious the TSA’s controversial behavior screening program that tries to pick out of an airport crowd a terrorist whose jitters give him or her away.
Here’s the theory behind the TSA’s behavior screening program. TSA agents circulate among passengers before they pass through security. They’re looking for a few of 94 signs of stress, fear or deception. Who knew there were so many telltale signs of those three emotions?
The TSA isn’t about to reveal what those 94 signs are, but it seems to me that with 25% of passengers having some degree of a fear of flying, it might be easy to mistake that kind of nervousness for something more sinister.
The TSA hasn’t yet caught a bad guy using this system, and some members of Congress say this is a waste of money. The government’s chief auditor—the Government Accounting Office—said last year the program is a waste of money and that behavior detection is unproven.
The TSA just ended a trial program at Baltimore’s airport yesterday. I wonder if that agency will start to agree with its critics?
Earlier this month I spent five, great days in Northern California wine country attending the Sonoma International Film Festival. One film got a standing ovation. It was produced by a 22-year-old film school graduate, and it was both hilarious and touching. And it involved travel of an unusual sort.
If you’ve never heard of Burning Man, you need to know it’s an annual art event held in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert. An entire city is built for a single week of non-stop partying and sharing and building of unusual vehicles and lots, lots more. It’s dusty and raucous and, some say, life changing.
My son has attended Burning Man several times, but he’s never invited me. Not that I’m complaining. But then I saw “Taking My Parents to Burning Man,” and like everyone else in the audience that day in Sonoma, I was delighted.
Bryant “Spry Bry” Boesen of Vancouver invited his very straight parents to the event; they attended with some trepidation. Boesen filmed the entire week, and the result is an account of a journey on a couple of levels. He doesn’t have a distributor for “Taking My Parents to Burning Man” yet, but he’ll get one.
Do try to see it.