Travel Notes…[UPDATED]

Every trip I take seems to require some ethical clarification…

  • Lose-lose. At our hotel in Ft. Lauderdale, a convention of either transvestites, transgender individuals, or some combination of the two dominated the hotel. The organization was “Himmaher”…I think I’m spelling it right. [Correction: I wasn’t. And that wasn’t the organization; it was the name that was listed for the gathering, and the name was HIMMERSHE. Thanks to Zanshin in the Comments below for the correction.]

I had several illuminating encounters. I don’t know that this is true of all such people, but the members of this association or club all seemed to want to make any non-club member they saw as uncomfortable as possible. Yes, that’s unethical. How you choose to dress, what you choose to have lopped off, and who you want to sleep with could not interest me less, and that is the  attitude a society like ours should strive to encourage. (None of those things should engender and advantages, either.) But what these people seemed to be seeking was imposed ethics zugswang. If you looked directly at them, the response was a chip-on-the-shoulder, “Go ahead and stare, honey: neverf seen a freak before?” If you appeared to be avoiding staring—I regard a six-foot ex-male standing in the middle of a hotel lobby in a  wig, skimpy bathing suit, 6 inch heels and speaking loudly in a base voice as parading a psychological problem or ten, and deserving the same social courtesy I would offer to a Tourette’s victim or a hebephrenic—then the individual decided to make it a project to get you to stare, as if your failure to provide the attention they craved was an insult.

Yeah, I know this is a stage, similar to the early stages of the gay rights movement.

  • How do they get away with this? Waiting for our plane to take off, and seeking to get smashed as quickly as possible, I visited a food and drink place on the concourse called “Maragaritaville” which didn’t sell margaritas. How is that not deceptive advertising?

Would it be ethical to name a vegan restaurant “The Big Beef”? A pizza place “Peking Gourmet”?

  • Southwest Airlines is ridiculous. So our price for less expensive tickets is deliberately imposed chaos? Last time I used the carrier there was just a first come, first served line for seats. That was bearable. Now you are required to stand between signs on poles that correspond with your ticket number. Mine returning was C-23, so I had to report when called to a six foot long queuing area designated C 21-25. It reminded me of Ellis Island, or perhaps a cattle show.

Then, again, the Incompetent Agent Feature took over, as it does so often with all airlines, creating special mass confusion thanks to the Southwest “system.” In such a system, saying “A 31-60” when you mean “B 31-60” is a rather basic error that should be avoided, and avoidable.

  • Burt and Han. Finally, there was this item that emerged while I was otherwise engaged, that should have gone into the Movie Ethics post.

Burt Reynolds died, and in the process of trying to explain why his career as a major movie star cratered so suddenly, several tributes and obituaries mentioned some of the movie roles he turned down, including Han Solo.  Intentional or not, this is an appeal to consequentialism. It also sparked an outbreak of hindsight bias. When Burt passed on the now iconic role in “Star Wars,” he and his agent had no way of knowing that the film wouldn’t be regarded as proof the Burt was on the skids. At that time, sci-fi action movies were regarded as bargain Blockbuster fodder, and taking such a role would have been a risky  gamble that Reynolds didn’t need to take. There’s a good reason George  Lucas ended up casting the unemployed actor who was doing carpentry work on his house. But now everyone says that Burt was a fool, and arrogant to boot, passing up a chance to play a great role in a classic. It’s a classic now, it wasn’t a classic then. Burt’s decision was rational and defensible when he made it.

He would have been terrific in that role, though.

37 Comments

Filed under Business & Commercial, Character, Daily Life, Etiquette and manners, Gender and Sex, Marketing and Advertising, Popular Culture, Professions, U.S. Society

37 responses to “Travel Notes…[UPDATED]

  1. Arthur in Maine

    Wow… been a while since you’ve flown Southwest, then.

    There’s nothing ridiculous about them – you just need to know how to fly them (like you do with any airline, for that matter, but Southwest is so different that first-timers can be a bit baffled). Keys include buying the ‘wanna get away’ fares early on AND purchasing the not-very-expensive early check-in option. With Southwest, if you board in the C grouping you’re pretty much guaranteed a middle seat, and if you’re flying with someone else you might not be together.

    Yes, the lineup system is typically a bit cozy, but experienced Southwest flyers take that in stride. Studies have also shown Southwest’s system is the most efficient boarding process used by any major US airline when it comes to loading the plane fast.

    Now, let’s look at what they do very impressively: they fly full-line aircraft on ALL legs – no regional jets; their ticket prices are reasonable; you don’t have to pay an additional fee for your first bag; you can change flights without getting penalized by a change fee (you simply pay the difference in fare, if any, and if that works in your favor you get a credit; and perhaps most importantly, I’ve found that Southwest’s cabin crews are almost unfailingly pleasant. Can’t say that about most US airlines!

    A few downsides, of course. Southwest has been one of the most successful US airlines due to the fact that it keeps its planes in the air, rather than on the ground; this means their schedule includes mostly short hops and continuing flights, so long point-to-point trips are the exception rather than the rule. They also tend to make use of ‘second-tier’ airports like Chicago Midway (a horrid place) and BWI (though I’ll take BWI over DCA any day of the week).

    Southwest isn’t usually my first choice in that they don’t offer premium economy seating and I like legroom, and I build that type of travel into my client contracts. I DO have one client that’s a non-profit, so I’ll fly Southwest for them, and I’ll also often fly Southwest if I’m traveling for non-client reasons.

    Give ’em another shot. Yes, the boarding experience is weird the first time you confront it, but the rest of the package is worthy of respect, in my opnion.

    • All air travel is awful now. All of it. I didn’t find the loading experience any faster or less chaotic, especially on the trip home, where a mob of people who couldn’t find seats in the back moved forward, causing a logjam, while the attendants screamed.

      Buy ticket, get seat assignment, board plane, sit in seat. Any other system is ridiculous. I couldn’t sit with my wife. Now does that make sense?

    • Jeff

      What I don’t understand about the current evolution of Southwest’s “barely contained chaos” boarding system is, if you’re already going to assign a unique alphanumeric combination to each passenger, why not just correlate that number to a specific seat? It used to be first-come, first-served, then it was three different boarding groups depending on when you checked in, and now it’s basically no different, from the perspective of Southwest’s booking system, than having a seat assigned, except you don’t get a seat assigned.

      I’ve been told before that their system somehow results in faster boarding (I can’t imagine how that is possible – every experience I’ve had on Southwest matches what Jack is describing), but is all that customer confusion and frustration worth saving a couple minutes loading the plane?

  2. Emily

    With regards to Burt Reynolds and Star Wars, not only did he not know at the time that Star Wars would be a hit, but we don’t know now that Star Wars would have been a hit if Reynolds had taken the role.

    That’s not to say he wasn’t a good actor, but the greatest danger to sci-fi spectacles seems to be hammy-ness. Dozens of wonderful, talented actors have fallen victim to it before and after Star Wars. I could make an argument that an actor with more polish than Harrison Ford could have sunk the movie by over-playing the role and losing the grounding that Mark Hamill and the setting needed. Maybe Reynolds would have made that argument too.

    Or not. Maybe he would have been wonderful, but there are many reasons not to visit alternate universes in obituaries.

  3. 1. Live and let live doesn’t get them taxpayer funded special consideration. If they cannot make a ruckus how do you expect them to force you to endorse their lifestyle choice.

    Militant gays are similar: affirm they are not just acceptable, but preferred and BETTER that normal, common folks or else!

    Poor Burt never lost the pigeon hole he was assigned: big star potential but never… quite… making the grad of a Sean Connery or Harrison Ford.

  4. Interesting……Google ‘Himmaher’ and it asks me ‘Did you mean Himmler?’

    Perhaps this is an LGBT White supremacist group?

  5. Zanshin

    Regarding lose-lose

    1. The organization was The Southern Comfort Conference.
    From their website: The Southern Comfort Conference has built a reputation as a safe place for LGBT people with a familial atmosphere, and aims at inclusiveness. It attracts people from all over the United States, offering the opportunity for social and other interaction.

    2. “Himmaher” — a nice play on ‘him’ and ‘her’ — is probably written as HIMMERSHEE, one of the conference rooms at the 8th floor of the Riverside Hotel.

    3. Regarding the behavior of the participants as experienced by you. That’s not conforming the expectations as defined by the organizer.
    To qoute
    Limits with the mainstream public: Please remember that you are representing our community in the mainstream so present yourself in a good light. Use Good Judgment – The mainstream public does not pay much attention if we present ourselves and behave like ladies and gentlemen. When outside the hotel please dress and act appropriately for your age and gender. Even if we are “read” we want to be seen as normal people expressing themselves in a non-threatening way. Remember that during the day there are families with children in the mainstream so we are invading their space to some extent. Travel in small groups, 1-4 ladies together is not unusual (unless they are all tall with the wrong lipstick, lol!).

    4. To put this conference in a larger context, see this quote from the Trans Guys website:

    The transgender conference circuit has expanded significantly over the past decade, particularly in the United States. Not surprisingly, attendance at these events has also ballooned, with good reason: Transgender conferences offer trans men a unique opportunity to learn, share and connect with long distance friends and mentors. Plus, surgeons often make themselves available for informal Q&A and private consultations, making conferences an important stop on the road to surgery.

    • Thank you; very helpful. I’m going to fix the error: I got the name wrong. I just caught it as I was leaving, when the bathing suit clad attendee distracted me.

    • Other Bill

      That’s helpful, Zanshin. So am I correct in concluding trans sexuals are men wanting to be women? I thought it also meant women wanting to be men, but I guess I was wrong. Does this explain the hostility of the women’s movement against trans sexuals, i.e., trans sexuals are just men (because they’re not really women, they’re just guys trying to get a leg up by being women)? Just another variety of annoying guys? So transgender is just a confusing version of transvestite, which denoted a guy who dressed as a woman.

      • Zanshin

        Hi Other Bill, I am not knowledgeable enough to answer your questions.

        Regarding the conference,
        A quote from the About page: The Southern Comfort Conference has built a reputation as a safe place for LGBT people with a familial atmosphere, and aims at inclusiveness.
        Looking at the program there are several sessions relevant for FtM but most pictures and also the rules I quoted suggest more of a focus on Mtf.
        And the Trans Guys website is of course focused on trans men.

      • Jeff

        Bill,

        The terms “transsexual” and “transgender” are used for both male-to-female and female-to-male people. I think we just see the term being used in the male-to-female sense more often because there are more male-to-female trans people. I’ve seen widely varying estimates, from 1.5x to 4x as many MtF vs. FtM.

        Why there is such a disparity is anyone’s guess, and legitimate research into the causes of gender dysmorphia is severely limited by the shrill screams of a loud minority of the LGBT community badgering anyone whose research doesn’t reach the conclusions the community insists it should. See the recent brouhaha at Brown University for an example.

  6. Alex

    Re: Margaritaville. Nothing in Chipotle contains chipotle. And if it does its just traces that are not noticeable. My wife hates that place for that reason.

    Re: Burt. If he had taken the role we would have missed Ford, so I’ll take this timeline.

  7. Matthew B.

    Harrison Ford was the only superstar created by Star Wars. Nobody else gained traction from the movie like he did.
    I think it is more about the discovery of an attractive, unknown actor that turned Ford into the star he was. There is no guarantee that someone else playing the roll of Solo would have seen Ford post Star Wars success.

    • True, but Solo would have had to make a superstar out of Burt: he was one already. The also part could have been written for him; in fact, I always thought Ford was too young; the character was obviously intended to be significantly older than Luke and Leia. Burt would have been perfect, and it was hardly a stretch. The success of the film certainly did not depend on Ford, though he was obviously fine. Burt for Ford wouldn’t have made any more difference than substituting Paul Scoffield for Alec Guinness. There’s no guarantees, but based on what we know now, I see no conceivable reason why a Burt/Solo would have changed anything.

      • Steve-O-in-NJ

        Maybe with an older actor in the part George Lucas might not have felt the need to put Leia with Han, when it was obvious he was intending to put her with Luke from the get-go, and avoided the clumsy plot device of making her Luke’s brother (and the later incestuous vibe of the kiss scene at the beginning of Empire Strikes Back).

      • VPJ

        I think about Reynolds playing Solo and I just have this vision of him in the Mos Eisley cantina talking up how the Millennium Falcon got a cargo of Coors from Texarkana to Kessel in less than 80 parsecs.

  8. Jack wrote: “How you choose to dress, what you choose to have lopped off, and who you want to sleep with could not interest me less, and that is the attitude a society like ours should strive to encourage. (None of those things should engender and advantages, either.) But what these people seemed to be seeking was imposed ethics zugswang. If you looked directly at them, the response was a chip-on-the-shoulder, “Go ahead and stare, honey: never seen a freak before?” If you appeared to be avoiding staring—I regard a six-foot ex-male standing in the middle of a hotel lobby in a wig, skimpy bathing suit, 6 inch heels and speaking loudly in a base voice as parading a psychological problem or ten, and deserving the same social courtesy I would offer to a Tourette’s victim or a hebephrenic—then the individual decided to make it a project to get you to stare, as if your failure to provide the attention they craved was an insult.

    Yeah, I know this is a stage, similar to the early stages of the gay rights movement.

    I would argue against this: “…and that is the attitude a society like ours should strive to encourage”. To say a society like ours implies a uniform mass with a uniform opinion, and such a mass must have been informed by some sort of coercive ideology, not necessarily one of free men and freely chosen.

    The fact that *this society* or any society would put up with such immoral displays is highly questionable; which would have lost its capacity to sensibly judge what is going on there and what the consequences of such bizarre choices are for *society* (and civilization); and which can act in no way to curtail such displays, if only by shunning of the idea of such: that *society* has lost its way. Or to put it another way if a member of society comes to such a point that he or she can make no moral and ethical assessments at all, but must accept whatever a given citizen chooses to do, be it *lopping* or *posing* or *twerking* or *exhibiting*, that member and the way he sees (according to what criteria) needs to be closely examined.

    Theproblem is actually far more complex than it appears if looked at superficially (if only the *surface* is seen).

    Tocqueville in Democracy in America wrote:

    I see an innumerable crowd of similar and equal men who spin around restlessly, in order to gain small and vulgar pleasures with which they fill their souls. Each one of them, withdrawn apart, is like a stranger to the destiny of all the others; his children and his particular friends form for him the entire human species; as for the remainder of his fellow citizens, he is next to them, but he does not see them; he touches them without feeling them; he exists only in himself and for himself alone, and if he still has a family, you can say that at least he no longer has a country.

    To have made this statement required a solid perceptual stance and it could not be any other except on based in some sort of social morality. That is, something accepted as given, as established. But he seems to have noted a potential defect, and speaks to that. The core idea stems from that of the *tutelary* and this can only mean what men are taught and what general attitude they take. And he seems to have prognosticated a process of decadence which, I suggest, is completely evident in our culture when sexuality is so horrifyingly abused by prancing homosexuals (and God-only-knows what). It is part of a larger pattern. Hard to see, harder to name with clarity.

    The breakdown that we notice around us and the crisis-period of American society cannot be dealt with through platitudinous view. The crisis will continue and it will bring not only America but Occidental culture to a dangerous abyss. And it is only when the larger problem is seen, understood and begins to be rectified that any positive change might be expected.

    And:

    Above those men arises an immense and tutelary power that alone takes charge of assuring their enjoyment and of looking after their fate. It is absolute, detailed, regular, far-sighted and mild. It would resemble paternal power if, like it, it had as a goal to prepare men for manhood; but on the contrary it seeks only to fix them irrevocably in childhood; it likes the citizens to enjoy themselves, provided that they think only about enjoying themselves. It works willingly for their happiness; but it wants to be the unique agent for it and the sole arbiter; it attends to their security, provides for their needs, facilitates their pleasures, conducts their principal affairs, directs their industry, settles their estates, divides their inheritances; how can it not remove entirely from them the trouble to think and the difficulty of living?

    There is so much here that, to me anyway, hardly needs further explanation. Long ago, the tendencies were seen. And now we clearly see where they lead. The ‘hyper-liberalism’ of our present — a wide assortment of destructive, nihilistic, narcissistic trends — appears like a giant, spoiled, indulgent, brash child who cannot keep his (or her) *stuff* in his pants. And it is so much more. The ramifications so deadly.

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