In between bustle and triptofan slumbers, the holidays offer the opportunity to do gulp down some healthy portions of television. Over Thanksgiving I came across The Crown and was instantly hooked, taking in all 10 episodes by the time the last turkey leftovers disappeared. It deals with the accession of Queen Elizabeth II to the throne in 1952 and her early years as British sovereign. The production marks another stage in the emergence of Netflix as an entertainment powerhouse. The online media company spent over $100 million on the series, and spent it wisely. The cast, headed by Claire Foy as the young queen and John Lithgow as wily Prime Minister Winston Churchill, is first rate. The series explores the often intense family disputes that occur amid the palaces and privilege, especially the lingering resentments of the abdication crisis that paved Elizabeth’s road to the throne in the first place, and the pressure of royal responsibility on her marriage.
The politicians get their share of attention. Even the magisterial Churchill, in his 70’s and serving his second term as Prime Minister, found acquiring and holding power to be a challenge, and he used every ounce of eloquence and gamesmanship at his command to bring it off. (The scene where he steals the show at Elizabeth’s wedding is a classic.) There’s something in this series for everyone, from political junkies to royal watchers to history buffs to fashion devotees. And since this is an aviation site, it would be remiss not to mention the cameo appearances put in by airplanes, from the one engine trainer Prince Philip uses for his flying lessons to the venerable propliners that carried the Queen on her journeys in the 1950’s!
The Thanksgiving weekend marks the start of the holiday travel cycle, and a record number of travelers are expected to take to the roads, the rails and the skies. The Weather Channel has put together a list of airports that lead the pack in terms of weather-related travel delays. The five worst offenders, in order of increasing frequency: Denver (DEN), New York La Guardia (LGA), Chicago O’Hare (ORD), Newark (EWR) and San Francisco (SFO). Sub-optimal runway placement makes EWR particularly vulnerable to wind, while the picturesque fogs push SFO to the top spot.
Fox News describes the outlook for holiday travel in the video below. along with tips on when to travel to avoid the crowds on the return trip.
As always, travelers should draw up contingency plans for schedule disruptions, and be aware and be prepared.
Have a blessed and safe Thanksgiving!
The orbital gyrations of our lunar neighbor have positioned the moon at its closest distance to earth in 68 years. The result is a “supermoon”, which is delighting evening viewers across the globe. The Weather Network has assembled some great shots from NASA and placed them in the video below. Enjoy!
After a long and frequently bitter election process, both the primaries and the general, the United States has chosen Donald J. Trump to be its 45th president. The peaceful transfer of power, which Americans take for granted, is nothing short of a miracle by historical standards. Let us wish the incoming president well and may Providence be his guide during the difficult days that lie ahead.
And now, let us acknowledge the unofficial star of Campaign 2016!
Domestic airline stocks continued to lag the market in October, but many are no longer in stinker territory. American and United in particular have recovered a lot of lost ground, although both are slightly negative on a year-to-date basis. The broader indices are showing a modest return, but many analysts expect a lot of volatility before we ring in the New Year, especially with a possibly turbulent election and unpredictable policy outcomes. Oil prices are holding on to this year’s gains. The decline in interest rates YTD contradicts the optimism of consensus opinion about the strength of the economy. Rate increases are continually talked about but do not materialize. What are the policy makers seeing but not saying?
Global economic competition has received its fair share of attention this presidential election season. And it’s unquestionably true that China has made massive investments in infrastructure that offer a stark contrast to recent developments in the United States. The Shanghai Maglev Train, linking the central urban core to the Pudong International Airport 19 miles away, is an impressive example. Using an elevated guideway and magnetic levitation technology (no track, no wheels!), the train whisks passengers to their destination in just 7 minutes, reaching a top operating speed of 268 mph. Impressive!
Video Credit: davidjellis (You Tube)
The U.S. consulate in Istanbul has issued a new warning for foreign residents and tourists (AFP Ankara Turkey via Yahoo News)
The consulate in Istanbul said in a message late Saturday that extremist groups continued their “aggressive efforts” to attack Americans and other foreigners in the city.
“These attacks may be pre-planned or could occur with little or no warning, and include, but are not limited to: armed attack, attempted kidnapping, bombing, or other violent acts,” it said in an online notice.
The consulate did not specify which group was believed to be plotting such acts, but in the past year the city has suffered multiple bombings by the Islamic State group (IS) and Kurdish militants.
This is another sad chapter in the story of the continuing deterioration of the global travel environment. Turkey has been hit particularly hard because of its entanglement with the Syrian conflict, the existence of terrorist elements within its borders and, of course, the aborted coup earlier this year.
The latest alert illustrates the importance of a political solution that can bring an end to the violence in Syria and its destabilizing effects on neighboring countries. The video below provides background on the attack at the Istanbul airport early this summer which killed 47 people. CBS News interviewed Juan Zarate, a national security advisor in the administration of George W. Bush, about the phenomenon of unclaimed terrorist attacks in the country
Image Credit- Dennis Jarvis
Who wouldn’t want to live like a mogul? Vlogger Casey Neustat managed to do it for an hour. He has a huge You Tube following, which includes two private jet pilots who offered him a comped ride on a repositioning flight from New York to Philadelphia. The celebrity life begins as Neustat boards the Lear sans TSA at Teterboro Airport in New Jersey. He filmed the experience in his signature, rather offbeat style. The Lear is well-appointed, but the visuals are a little startling- compared to commercial jetliners, most private jets look like narrow, albeit elegant, tubes. Of course, the amenities are wonderful, and there is something to be said about traveling like a VIP. Neustat takes the train back to New York City, but not before skateboarding through downtown Philadelphia and living the life of a You Tube celebrity. All in all, a fun video!
All eyes are on Hurricane Matthew, which is expected to move up the Florida coast on Friday. The center of the storm is expected to stay some 20 miles offshore, sparing the coast cities the full force of its 120 mph winds. But forecasts are an imprecise science, and an unexpected wiggle in the track could cause real havoc there. If you are flying, check with your airline for cancellations and rescheduling arrangements. American Airlines has posted its policy on waiving change fees on its website. Waivers will depend on itinerary and travel dates.
Areas near the storm’s path may be subject to mandatory evacuation, so check local media for updated information regardless of one’s mode of travel.
Below are videos from CNN on the storm’s progress and the view from space as seen on the International Space Station via SpaceVideos.
Airline stocks continue to languish at the end of the third quarter. Most are solidly in the red despite an upwards trend in the rest of the market. OPEC moved to stem the decline in oil prices in late September, while there are continuing pressures on the revenue front in the face of climbing capacity. The Dow Jones airline index is down by -15%, while Delta and Jet Blue are the worst laggards among the individual carriers, posting losses for the year of -22% and -24%, respectively. Despite all the talk of interest rate hikes, long-term rates are still in decline mode, and consumers appear to be in a somewhat nervous, penny-pinching mood.