Tag: travel

Google Being Evil

This is not a surprise. This is what Google does, leveraging its monopoly position on search, and now online advertising, to crush competitors:

As the antitrust drumbeat continues to pound on tech giants, with Reuters reporting comments today from the U.S. Justice Department that it’s moving “full-tilt” on an investigation of platform giants including Google parent Alphabet, startups in Europe’s travel sector are dialing up their allegations of anti-competitive behavior against the search giant.

Google has near complete grip on the search market in Europe, with a regional market share in excess of 90%, according to Statcounter. Unsurprisingly, industry sources say a majority of travel bookings start as a Google search — giving the tech giant huge leverage over the coronavirus-hit sector.

More than half a dozen travel startups in Germany are united in a shared complaint that Google is abusing its search dominance in a number of ways they argue are negatively impacting their businesses.

Complaints we’ve heard from multiple sources in online travel range from Google forcing its own data standards on ad partners to Google unfairly extracting partner data to power its own competing products on the cheap.

Startups are limited in how much detail they can provide on the record about Google’s processes because the company requires advertising partners to sign NDAs to access its ad products. But this week German newspaper Handelsblatt reported on antitrust complaints from a number of local startups — including experience booking platform GetYourGuide and vacation rental search engine HomeToGo — which are accusing the tech giant of stealing content and data.

The group is considering filing a cartel complaint against Google, per its report.

We’ve also heard from multiple sources in the European travel sector that Google has exhibited a pattern of trying to secure the rights to travel partners’ content and data through contracts and service agreements.

One source, who did not wish to be identified for fear of retaliation against their business, told us: “Each travel partner has certain specialities in their business model but overall the strategy of Google has been the same: Grab as much data from your partners and build competing products with that data.”


Google defends this type of expansion by saying it’s just making life easier for the user by putting sought for information even closer to their search query. But competitors contend the choices it’s making are far more insidious. Simply put, they’re better for Google’s bottom line — and will ultimately result in less choice and innovation for consumers — is the core argument. The key contention is Google is only able to do this because it wields vast monopoly power in search, which gives it unfair access to travel rivals’ content and data.

It’s certainly notable that Alphabet hasn’t felt the need to shell out to acquire any of the major travel booking platforms since its ITA acquisition. Instead, its market might allow it to repackage and monetize rival travel platforms’ data via an expanding array of its own vertical travel search products.

This is why the internet giants need to be regulated as utilities, and why we should consign Robert Bork’s corrupt and ahistorical antitrust analysis needs to be put in the dust-bin of history.

Welcome to the Brotherhood of Sh%$-Hole Nations

As a result of an abysmally managed pandemic response, it is looking increasingly likely that the EU is giving serious consideration to banning travelers from the United States.

This is some definition of, “Making America Great Again,” that I was previously unaware of:

European Union countries rushing to revive their economies and reopen their borders after months of coronavirus restrictions are prepared to block Americans from entering because the United States has failed to control the scourge, according to draft lists of acceptable travelers reviewed by The New York Times.

That prospect, which would lump American visitors in with Russians and Brazilians as unwelcome, is a stinging blow to American prestige in the world and a repudiation of President Trump’s handling of the virus in the United States, which has more than 2.3 million cases and upward of 120,000 deaths, more than any other country.

European nations are currently haggling over two potential lists of acceptable visitors based on how countries are faring with the coronavirus pandemic. Both lists include China, as well as developing nations like Uganda, Cuba and Vietnam. Both also exclude the United States and other countries that were deemed too risky because of the spread of the virus.

Welcome to the 3rd world, folks.

We are Screwed

The Covid-19 pandemic has interfered with the shipment of many types of products.

One I had not considered was the commercial movement of bee hives to pollinate crops, and right now this business is shut down, which means that many crops, most fruits and nuts and many vegetables, are likely not to be pollinated this year.

Lockdowns, quarantine requirements and border closures introduced in recent weeks around the world to slow the coronavirus pandemic are threatening to hit food production by limiting the movement of bees, agriculturalists have warned.

Farmers around the world growing fruits, vegetables and nuts rely on bees to pollinate their crops. In many cases bees are trucked through agricultural areas, rather than staying local to one area — but now they cannot travel.

“A third of our food depends on the pollination by bees. The production of those crops could be affected,” said Norberto Garcia of Apimondia, the international federation of beekeepers.

In the US, honey bees gather pollen and nectar from plants including berries, melons, broccoli and almonds, pollinating $15bn worth of crops every year, according to the US Department of Agriculture.

This is going to be a complete cluster-f%$#.

A Noun, a Verb, and a Travel Ban

The centerpiece Donald Trump’s announced measures to deal with COVID-19 is a travel ban from Europe.
This is the administration’s default response to any situation:  Build a wall.

In this case, the wall is the Maginot Line:

Donald Trump announced that the US would temporarily suspend all travel from the European Union, as the country reckons with the spread of coronavirus and the White House grapples with the severity of the situation.

The restrictions, which would begin on Friday and last for 30 days, would not apply to the UK, he said. He also encouraged older Americans to avoid all travel if possible.

Trump made the announcement in an Oval Office speech on Wednesday evening on the federal response to what the World Health Organization has declared a global pandemic.

During the speech, Trump defended his administration’s response while laying blame on the European Union for not acting quickly enough to address the “foreign virus”, saying US clusters had been “seeded” by European travelers.

Seriously, this is f%$#ed up and sh%$.


If you a checking something expensive onto a commercial flight, include a gun, because it allows you to use a lock that baggage handlers and TSA agents cannot routinely open and rifle through.

It’s a federal regulation.

Once TSA inspects the bag, you put YOUR lock on it, and your valuables are secured

Just remember, it cannot be loaded:

I was talking with a friend who works and travels with drones.

Since his equipment costs tens of thousands of dollars it’s at high risk of being stolen at the airport during checked luggage handling.

The drone industry’s travel safety hack?

Throw a gun in with your drone.

— Kiki Schirr 史秀玉 🗝🗝✂️ (@KikiSchirr) January 8, 2020

TSA requires that gun cases remain locked post-inspection for the duration of travel, locked with a lock only you (and not TSA) has a key for.

Further, any case with a gun is practically escorted through the airport after being checked because it can NOT be lost.

Odd #lifehack

— Kiki Schirr 史秀玉 🗝🗝✂️ (@KikiSchirr) January 8, 2020


Such a nice boy!

My son Charlie (Youtube Channel here, his Deviant Art here) decided to take his laptop with him to my nephew Sam’s Bar Mitzvah.

On the way home, he misplaced it.

Luckily, left it left the TSA bin at airport security, and his login screen has his name, so he called them today (Lost and Found was closed for the King holiday), and they will be sending it to him, at his expense, via express delivery.

Well, he can take solace that he is a lucky dumb-ass.

Note: I published this post with his express permission, so don’t go calling me a bad parent.