The constant rains and blustery, weirdly unseasonable weather have wreaked havoc on our umbrella collection. The little pop-up umbrellas, in particular, have taken a beating — which is why you see lots of soggy, downcast Columbusites trudging around carrying massive, ultra-sturdy golf umbrellas.
Today as I walked to work it started misting. After feeling proud that I had remembered an umbrella, I discovered that the canopy on this one had become unmoored from two of its ribs, leaving the cover flapping in the breeze. Embarrassing, to be sure — but half an umbrella is still better than none. So long as I could position the umbrella to keep the rain and mist off my glasses, I’m OK.
I’m guessing that Columbus-area stores have never sold as many umbrellas as they have this year.
Air travel isn’t exactly exotic and fun these days. So, it should come as no real surprise that people keep coming up with ideas to make it even worse.
Now a company has sought a patent for a new seating configuration for economy class cabins, and in their design one seat in every row would face the rear of the plane. That’s right! In this brilliant new scheme, no matter where we economy classers might sit, we would be inches away from the face of whatever stranger happened to be riding on the same plane. Imagine the thrill of being face to face with a nose-picking brat for a three-hour flight, or waking up from a mid-air nap to find the creepy guy facing you has been staring at you with a dead-eyed smile! It’s not hard to imagine dozens of unpleasant and unnerving scenarios that could easily occur if this new approach were adopted.
Of course, it’s just an idea right now — but every recent development in the air travel business suggests that airlines would be very amenable to new seating arrangements that would allow airlines to cram even more passengers onto planes and, in the process, create even more incentives for travelers to pay the fees for seating upgrades. Would you play an extra $50 to move up to business class if by doing so you could avoid the possibility of having to look directly at some random weird character for the entirety of the flight?
If you follow the link above to the Wired article on the patent application, and then follow its internal link for “patented a new seating configuration,” you’ll get to a PDF of the patent application that includes a schematic of the proposed seating. Take a look at it and see if you aren’t uncomfortably reminded of the section of your fifth-grade American History book about the slave trade that included drawings that were used to instruct evil slave ship captains on how to pack their holds with human cargo for the Middle Passage, like the one that accompanies this post.
Air travel has become a commodity business, and we passengers are the commodities.