Monthly Archives: August 2014

That Giant Sucking Sound : Surge pricing on Uber

Some Giant sour suckers: Coming to a town near you.

Some Giant sour suckers: Coming to a town near you.

As we said before on the ‘sharing’ economy, careful what you wish for. Houston is allowing the likes of Uber and Lyft into it’s market but it will also liberalize it’s standard fares to allow surge prices.

To see what surge prices may look like, read the Marketwatch article titled “Uber car service twists sharing economy into ‘sucker’s economy’. It’s main piece is about riders at a San Francisco festival being charged anything from $290 to $470 to go a few miles.

The story originates in Scallywag which shows screen dump of such a trip where the driver took a 11 mile trip instead of a 4 mile trip and in the meanwhile, the fare came to $391.





Something fishy with SEAS : Seaworld stock price plumets on Orca backlash

SEAS Sick: Seaworld's stock price drop. charts courtesy of

SEAS Sick: Seaworld’s stock price dropped by 33% today

Per Bloomberg “SeaWorld Drops as Killer Whale Controversy Hurts Sales” where the shares of “Seaworld Entertainment systems” (ticker symbol SEAS) dropped by 33% to $18.90 and all time low since it was floated as an IPO in 2013.

“The company acknowledged for the first time that pressure from animal-rights groups is reducing attendance, said Barton Crockett, an analyst at FBR & Co., calling second-quarter results “surprisingly weak.” The theme-park operator fought off a proposed ban on keeping orcas in captivity in California with a lobbying campaign that raised doubts about claims that the animals are harmed in its parks”

Things are not looking good for the brand as the drop was on major selling volume.

Bridge over ruffled waters : NYPD Red faces after white flag raising was an ‘art prank’

Source of the trouble.

Source of the trouble.

It looks like the mystery of who placed the two white flags over the Brooklyn Bridge has been solved. The NYT broke the story that it was two Berlin artists who did it as an art project. The date was chosen as the anniversary of the death of John Roebling, then German born engineer who built the bridge.

To recap, this incident had caused major embarrassment to the NYPD where the two US stars and stripes flags were replaced by two white ones right under their noses in the early hours of the morning.  NY’s doughnut eaters then assigned almost 3 dozen ‘crack’ detectives to solve the case.

On Tuesday Stephen Davis, the police department’s chief spokesman, invited them to return to New York: “If they want to come in and speak with us, we certainly would be more than happy to entertain them.”

Yeh, sure you will. Continue reading..

Now, Play nice and Share : Uber dirty tricks on it’s competitor, Lyft

A well known board game.

A well known board game but we do not remember it’s name.

After reading a news article in CNN Money, it seems like the Uber and Lyft are not getting along where Lyft is accusing Uber of dirty tactics by calling in rides, then canceling them last minute.

According to data provided by Lyft, 5560 rides were ordered by Uber affiliates then cancelled. The smoking gun is the telephone numbers from which the rides were ordered, cross-reference back to known Uber recruiters. One account in LA had 49 cancellations from October to May.

CNN also reports that Uber were busted doing something similar in a NY rival taxi App, called “Gett” and after that Uber agreed to “”tone down their sales tactics.”

So much for the sharing economy where CNN quote an earlier interview with Uber CEO Travis Kalanick by Laurie Segall

“The taxi industry [is] trying to protect a monopoly that has been granted them by local officials, so they’re trying to slow down competition.”

Oh the hypocrisy.

Meet the new Taxi boss. Same as the old Taxi boss.

Motorcycling in Houston: Reality hits the road

An unfortunate ranking  for Houston.

An unfortunate ranking for Houston.

8/10/ 2014: A Houston Chronicle headline opens with “Motorcyclist killed in six-vehicle crash in east Harris County

The key points to the story per the Chron:

Around 10:30 p.m., the driver of a 2006 GMC Sonoma pickup was traveling east in the 17600 block of East Freeway where traffic was slowing because of a lane closure. Investigators learned the unidentified pickup driver was traveling on the inside improved shoulder when he failed to control his speed and crashed into the back of a motorcycle.

The motorcycle was forced toward the inside eastbound lanes, striking the left side of 2014 Dodge Dart. The rider slid across the roadway into the center lane while the motorcycle hit a wall and caught on fire, authorities said.

At the same time, the Sonoma continued traveling east where it rear-ended the back of 2011 Cadillac CTS, authorities said. The Cadillac then crashed into the Dodge Dart before striking the back of a 2014 Ford F-150.

Some years back, a daughter’s boyfriend told me of the time when he got knocked off his motorbike from behind while waiting a red light in Houston. He was hurt pretty bad. The woman driver was drunk.

My first ever vehicle was a motorbike where it was my main mode of transport for many years. It was not that I didn’t like cars, but it was the only thing I could afford. A condition of getting the bike was a promise to my mother to take a defensive driving Motorcycling course. I learned a lot : about where on the road to drive; to be continually aware of the road – who is doing what ahead and behind; preventive actions to take when seeing a car waiting at a junction; the underlying assumption that the other driver has not seen you. Continue reading..

Vive La Revolution : Houston allows Uber and Lyft to operate with conditions

The Revolutionary Che'ring economy. [1]

The revolutionary Che’ring economy[1].

In the war against the old style Taxi and municipal regulation, Houston City council came down on the side of Uber and Lyft and voted to allow them to operate in Houston City limits. says:

“After months of discussions, City Council has approved the operation of ride-sharing services in Houston.

Taxi cab drivers have been fighting it, but on Wednesday Houston city leaders gave the green light to companies like Uber and Lyft.

For months Uber and Lyft have been asking to operate within city limits, but city leaders have been slow to say yes because there were questions about how to regulate the new mobile app-based services.

City Council members discussed the topic for more than five hours Wednesday and focused on insurance, accessibility for the disabled and how to make sure there weren’t any gaps in regulation that could lead to lawsuits down the road.”

And this is where Mr. Devil meets Ms. Details as there are different models under the Uber and Lyft banner. Continue reading..

Game of thrones : Elizabeth II delays trip to Balmoral to allow more tourists

Bohemian Currency (

Bohemian Currency (

Dahlings, it looks as if my friend Queen Betty of Union Jackland had to slum it the other week.

Turns outs that her Maj delayed moving back to Balmoral for one week in order to allow more tourists to visit her Scottish country pad to get more pounds into the Royal coffers.

With her advert on HereditaryBnB, Liz’s advert had disclaimer of “Antiquated, creaky at night, plumbing isn’t modern, so don’t expect it to function in the modern world”.

It took me a while to realize that Liz wasn’t talking about Balmoral, but was giving a warning about Prince Philip.

Ciao for now,

Yelp me if you can, I’m feeling down : US guest house fines reviewers for negative reviews

One of the Opening scenes of Fawlty Towers.

One of the opening scenes of the BBC Comedy, “Fawlty Towers”

The internet outrage de jour is the story of  “Hotel fines $500 for every bad review posted online” started by NY Post. Except when you read it, you find out it wasn’t a hotel but a small guest house.

The Union Street Guest House, near Catskills estates built by the Vanderbilts and Rockefellers, charges couples who book weddings at the venue $500 for every bad review posted online by their guests.

“Please know that despite the fact that wedding couples love Hudson and our inn, your friends and families may not,” reads an online policy. “If you have booked the inn for a wedding or other type of event . . . and given us a deposit of any kind . . . there will be a $500 fine that will be deducted from your deposit for every negative review . . . placed on any internet site by anyone in your party.”

If you take down the nasty review, you’ll get your money back.

For any bad reviews that do make it online, the innkeepers aggressively post “mean spirited nonsense,” and “she made all of this up.”

In response to a review complaining of rude treatment over a bucket of ice, the proprietors shot back: “I know you guys wanted to hang out and get drunk for 2 days and that is fine. I was really really sorry that you showed up in the summer when it was 105 degrees . . . I was so so so sorry that our ice maker and fridge were not working and not accessible.”

That is pretty much the article. Continue reading..

Russkies in a Flussky : Russian travel companies goes under and leaves thousands stranded

Matryoshka dolls upon hearing about the Russian tour firm, Labirint

Matryoshka dolls upon hearing about the Russian tour firm, Labirint

The after shocks of economic sanctions on Russia following their involvement in Ukraine, are starting to bite. From the BBC news:

As many as 27,000 Russian tourists are stranded abroad after a Russian tour firm, Labirint, suspended operations.

A company statement (in Russian) blamed the move on a deterioration in the rouble exchange rate and the “negative political and economic situation”.

There are signs that EU-US sanctions on Russia over the Ukraine crisis are hurting the wider economy, including Western investment in Russia.

The same story is covered by IBTimes which adds that many tourists in Greece were booted out of their hotels as a result.

Greek media reports estimated that between 8,000 and 10,000 Russians were stuck on Greek islands. The country’s Tourism Ministry said, in a statement: “Greece is a safe and welcoming tourist destination that respects its guests.”

However, Russia’s Association of Tour Operators of Russia (ATOR) has threatened to name hotels that had “mishandled” the situation. Some tourists were reportedly evicted from hotels, while others were apparently refused entry after Labirint’s bankruptcy was announced. ATOR would be adding hotels to a “blacklist”, it said.

Russian tourists are also thought to be stuck in Turkey, Egypt, Spain, Bulgaria and Cyprus.

Labirint announced it was stopping operations on Saturday and that Turpomoshch (Tour Help) would attempt to help passengers that were stuck.

So what should you do if you find yourself in a situation where your tour company or chartered airline goes under when you are on vacation ? Continue reading..

Pearls of Hysteria : Reality of catching a Vibrio Vulnificus infection from the Gulf of Mexico

An old food selfie Augustus' 3rd dozen of gulf Oysters.

An old food selfie of Augustus’ 3rd dozen of gulf Oysters.

If you read the headlines “Florida resident dies from flesh-eating bacteria, officials confirm“, you may think this is an Ebola story. It is not.

It turns out that that victim died of of a seaborn bacteria ‘vibrio vulnificus’ which entered his body via an open wound. Not only that but the deceased had chronic health problems.

Is this something to be alarmed at ? No. This bacteria occurs naturally in the sea and flourishes in warmer waters. He was unlucky.

Vibrio vulnificus is also the bacteria that can sicken you if are unlucky enough to eat bad Oysters. For healthy people, this would be diarrhea only. For those who are immune supressed or unhealthy, this can be deadly.

The Emperors of Roam just love Oysters and we are well aware of the risks. We are very strict about eating Oysters in only winter months especially Gulf Oysters. Not only are they safer to eat in the cold water, but they taste better due to changes in glycogen.

Wake me up when December ends.