Here's a collection of things to speed you through your Friday.

1. From the "right in Ed's wheelhouse" files, here is a gallery of deteriorating but still staggering Soviet-era space murals in Kazakhstan. Nature seems to be well on the way to reclaiming some of them, which is a damn shame (click to embiggen).


By the way, the link is to Esquire Kazakhstan. So I guess Esquire Kazakhstan is a thing.

2. Speaking of galleries, photographer Klaus Pichler has a haunting series of photos of "cosplay" aficionados doing mundane activities in full costume. It's a combination of endearing and creepy that makes it hard to tear your eyes away.

Just the two of us, Klaus Pichler, 2013

If you're not sure how to feel about that, join the club.

3. If you're interested in cryptography (particularly during WWII) and/or the history of computing, Bletchley Park is putting its entire archives up online slowly but surely. Is it still OK to find this stuff interesting now that electronic surveillance is a way of life?

4. The newest orders for Boeing 787s and Airbus A330s – two long range airliners used primarily for transatlantic flights and trunk routes in Asia – are for ten-across coach seating. The standard for the past few years has been nine-across for widebody airliners of this type. How will they make the transition from nine to ten? Well obviously they're just going to make the seats even more miserable. The new coach seats will be an incomprehensibly awful 16.7" wide. I am quite narrow by American standards, and I am still shuddering at the idea of sitting in one of those fucking things for 10 hours. Grab a measuring tape and look at 16.7". Then remember that these planes are used on flights that can last as long as 14 hours. It's almost an inch per hour!

On the bright side, air travel is rapidly becoming unaffordable anyway so there's no point in worrying.

20 thoughts on “NPF: AUTUMN POTPOURRI”

  • middle seaman says:

    United frequent fliers unite! (Uncle Carl).

    Narrow seats increase peeing. That's welcome exercise in a rather crammed plane. Willing to wager on the next steps: standing room only, $5 for restroom visit, cleaning plane after landing and robots as flight attendants.

    But the 787 is a quiet plane.

  • On the bright side, air travel is rapidly becoming unaffordable anyway so there's no point in worrying.

    Yeah, about that. Airlines are not only cramming more seats into economy, they are also offering the first class seats bigger seats and overnight sleeping berths. This trend, which is going towards all industries, has mostly to do with our incredibly shrinking middle class, and how companies who have decided to just start going after the highest earners (since poor people obviously can't make up the loss of revenue that they're seeing as the middle class goes the way of the dodo bird).

  • c u n d gulag says:

    16.7 inches?
    How do they plan to squeeze fat American asses – like mine – into those seats?
    Grease people's butt-cheeks, and hire the Tokyo subway passenger-packers to jump up and down on their crotches until they're in?

    And then, how do they plane to extricate them from the seat, if they have to go to the bathroom, or at the end of the flight?
    Portable 'Jaws-of-life?"

    Or, will each seat have a retractable hand-rest to pull up, so that each seat can accommodate an American butt-cheek – and this way, they can charge Americans double?

    Note to self: If you ever have to fly on one of these planes, plan to pay double.
    But if that's not an option, wear Depends, a cup, and a jockstrap.

    Additional note to self: Never mind – take a boat.

  • Ah! But C U, that is their cunning plan. Those who are fatter will require more room. Read: two seats. Therefore…

  • Major Kong: "Air travel is becoming more and more unpleasant. If it's less than a 6 hour drive I don't even think about getting on an airplane any more."

    No question. I recently found myself strongly weighing the option of driving from New England to rural Kentucky rather than flying, because the transit time (believe it or not) was almost the same, and the annoyance and fatigue is far greater for a flight.

    (Part of the blame for that goes to the hub system, but that ship sailed a long time ago…)

    Anyway, I'm a bigger than average guy. When I fly, I try to make up for that by tucking in my elbows, leaning towards the wall, and generally conceding as much space to my neighbors as I can. But this isn't even a question of weight; at more than six feet tall with 20+ inch shoulders, I could diet until next decade and still be in a position where my seatmates and I would both be miserable. I can't help but think that a sub-17-inch seat width is going to end up being a big problem.

  • @Kong

    Words from a pilot!

    My threshold is anywhere east of the the Mississippi. Lack of non-stop flights, buying two plane tickets, a great chance to catch a cold on a plane.

    Actually I haven't left Virginia in over a year……

  • @ Inverarity

    Personally, I would never give that a second thought, I would just drive. Cost of plane ticket, connecting flights, I like to drive, I am slightly germ phobic and my linebacker sized body simply doesn't fit in most chairs. It's not my butt, it's my shoulders.

  • I cannot fathom why anybody would put up with the airlines' bullshit for anything other than transcontinental flights. And even then I would strongly consider taking a ship unless the trip was absolutely time-critical.

    The airlines have been shit for decades, well before the TSA and an obsession with catering to the ultra-rich made it even worse.

  • Pennelope Pennebaker says:

    Those Soviet era murals are striking. Can you fathom the US gov't mandating public art on all construction during that period? Much less now? It doesn't turn a buck, it doesn't get done.

  • I fly all the time and don't mind it in the least. I'm fat, but more in front of me than to the sides of me. Narrower seats would probably suck, though.

  • The only thing worse than flying is hearing all the complaints about it as if it's something that just happened. The real shifts in seating space took place with delivery of the 757s about 20-25 years ago and those planes remain among the most claustrophobic, regardless of carrier. The use of "regional jets" came soon after in the early 90s. The phase out of free food was more recent, but airline food in coach was awful even in the "old" days, 30 years ago. I started flying as a kid (not very often but enough to have a standby pass for United) and my flying has included numerous trips (in coach) to Thailand, as well as to Vietnam, Colombia, New Zealand, Russia, Brazil….and shuttle flights in tiny planes to the Midwest. I've also flown old Soviet airliners in Laos, Chinese relics in Burma and flown in a plane that couldn't use instruments in the Himalaya. So, I'm not saying it's fun, but it really hasn't been even slightly close great in a long, long time.

    I would agree though, that simple 60-90 minute flights can turn into poor uses of time. I periodically have a trip that's 380 miles away and door to door can do it 6 1/2 hours in a car with minimal effort on clear roads. It can easily take as long by plane if there's a delay of an hour or two, counting the trip to the airport (taking a commuter train, not sitting in traffic), the headway for security, etc. That's when i use the airport that is dominated by a budget carrier. When I can get a good price at the closer, normally more expensive airport, the plane always wins.

  • @Inverarity,

    For some more context, I'm 5 feet tall, 115 lbs., and have cross-shoulder and cross-hip measurements of 16 inches. I wear a women's size small and have a small frame. Even I will barely fit in a sub-17-inch seat. I cannot imagine how any fully grown man, regardless of weight, is supposed to fit. This is ridiculous and, quite frankly, offensive on the manufacturers' part.

  • I have flown well over a million miles. 40 trips to Asia.

    And I hate flying. Hope I never have to again. 20 hour drive is better than 2 hour flight for me.

    Claustrophobia. Just can't handle those tight quarters and thinking of sitting on the runway for hours freaks me out.

  • Those mosaics and murals are amazing! To my knowledge U.S. has nothing like it. The intent of permanence my be what I find so impressive.

    We have Banksy.

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