Thursday, March 29, 2007

Is Air Canada double ticketing?

I actually like Air Canada. I've taken twenty flights since January, all of them on Air Canada (or a SA partner). They've all been pleasant, and their staff have been helpful (for instance, when I missed a connection mostly because of absentmindedness).

But today I was booking a flight to Chicago in two weeks. Air Canada offers the cheapest direct flight from Montreal. The indicated price with taxes and fees was $511. But then, just as I was about to hit click the price jumped to $554. I don't understand why, and I don't understand how this is different from double ticketing, a fraudulent practice in which stores "mistakenly" put two prices on an item but insist on charging the higher price at the register.

It's hard to know what to do in this case. Do I wait until I can talk to someone at AC, or do I book and then complain and hope to get the difference. If I do the first, I risk a higher price. If I do the second, I risk no refund of the difference. Damned if you do...

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Three thoughts on the Quebec election

I provide these without links (and with apologies):

1.) It is unclear to me exactly why this outcome advantages Harper. The argument being advanced this morning is that this shows that there is a stronger conservative sentiment in Quebec than we knew about a day ago. And this sentiment is particularly tied to social values, concerns about the family, and concerns about immigration. But can Harper really hit hard on those issues in Quebec (especially reasonable accomodation) and not pay an electoral cost in the rest of the country, especially among the visible minorities he is so assiduously courting?
2.) You can call Dumont Le Pen if you like, but what last night's result shows is that when mainstream parties fail to address the concerns of a large part of the population - that is, when they fail to lead on those concerns and to set the agenda - then more marginal forces can grab a hold and make them a winning issue. It's a heresthetic (look it up), and it worked masterfully for Dumont, particularly because the other parties were not proactive.
3.) Boisclair is obviously done. And this hurts Charest. While I think he can hold on, it is made marginally more difficult by the fact that the PQ will soon be without a leader. If disgruntled Liberals can throw Charest over the side fast enough they can elect a new leader and premier - perhaps finding him at a Jean Talon market - while the new PQ leader is still finding his feet (or his way back from Ottawa).

Monday, March 26, 2007

Back from Spain

I am back from Spain. I spent two days in meetings with some great academics, including this guy and this guy. I am really lucky to be involved in a project with them and others examining public opinion towards immigration in Western Europe.

After two days in Barcelona, my father - who flew in a day after me - and I mounted a couple of motorcycles and headed across the country for six days. We rode past Valencia the first day, down to Grenada the second, up Gibraltar (to the very top) and off to Seville the next day. On Thursday we headed to Albacete and on Friday we stayed in Tureul. Saturday we returned to Barcelona, 3000 kms wiser and no younger from all of the coffee we drank. There can be little doubt that Spain is a first class bike country. Pictures are soon to follow. (For those interested, this is a first-rate outfit from which to rent bikes).

In the meantime, I am back to experimenting on students and writing about the effectiveness of direct mail.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Freedom lovers mourn...

... but this is a good ruling if you, like me, believe in the independence of voting. If you don't believe in it, one read of this guy should change your mind.

Who would you be more surprised to see at Harvard?

Apparently, Andre Boisclair was surprised to see so many people with "slanted eyes" at Harvard. As a friend said, I am sure they were surprised to see a university drop-out there. What a dick.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

The logic of political survival hits one about the head

Unfortunately, this is what the logic of political survival looks like in Zimbabwe. May Mugabe ride into the syphillis-sunset before this gets any worse. And maybe those who still celebrate him as a hero could saddle up with him.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Halifax Taxis

Halifax taxis are absurd. For some reason, cab drivers there are legally obligated to keep their lights on even when they have a fare. If you've ever tried to flag a taxi there on a cold night then you'll know the frequent dissapointment of full-but-lit cabs passing you by. But this isn't the greatest absurdity. If you read David Rhodenheiser's column today in the Daily News, he points out that taxi licenses - i.e. the right to possess a taxi number - sell for just $50 a year. And they are owned for life. Yet, taxis are being leased for as much as $500 a month. Now, in a bout of economic illiteracy, Rhodenheiser suggests that this is leading to the exploitation of cab drivers who are paying the $500 a month to lease the licenses. Of course it is no such thing, as these drivers are neither compelled nor coerced into leasing the licenses. Rather, the travesty is that the Halifax council would price so meagerly a commodity which is obviously of much greater value. What should be occurring, of course, is that Halifax taxpayers should be receiving the market rate for every cab which is on the road, which is apparently about 120 times what they are receiving now. But what do you expect from a city that goes so far as to force cab lights to stay on when the cab is taken?