Why I boycott Frontier

Once I was tricked into flying on Frontier because I did a quick flight search on kayak and their flight was slightly cheaper than other options. Then I realized they didn’t offer an electronic boarding pass; this was probably to charge me an extra $30 for my carry-on at check-in. Maybe I should have known, but I didn’t – and Frontier certainly didn’t inform me. No, a tiny, message on kayak that baggage fees may exist does not count. Spirit asks for baggage plans and provides prices during the flight booking process, before payment – that counts.

Deceit as a business strategy is not cool. Capitalism should not require that customers become experts on the industry tricks for the goods and services they purchase. Frontier is in a fairly commoditized business, so I’m happy to pay a few more dollars occasionally to always avoid them. (But I needn’t.)

Why I hate Airbnb but still use them

I was in a lyft over the summer where the driver, who recently moved to Portland, told me that she planned to buy a house purely to rent it on Airbnb, preferably in a nice area where only rich people could afford to vacation. I mortally fear being in enclosed, fast-moving spaces with offended people, so I didn’t say what I was thinking. Which was “WHAT? You’re literally making Portland worse!!!”

Airbnb is a societal problem where it benefits all individuals to use it while traveling, and it benefits individuals who use it to rent out their houses. But it makes everyone worse off in cities with limited housing, due to higher costs and likely missed tax revenue. I have no respect for Airbnb, which is a tragedy of the commons masquerading as a sharing economy. Tragedy of the commons problems require regulation, and Airbnb, being in denial, has no interest in enforcing or aiding regulation. Shameful.

(But I still use Airbnb when I travel.)

Better to complain publicly than boycott 

I’m arriving at the conclusion that personal boycotting doesn’t matter. I keep forgetting my power cord for work and then borrowing my coworkers’, and my manager pointed out, “Er… Apple’s probably not going to notice if we buy you an extra cord.”

More menacing, boycotting suggests that regulating unethical companies is a personal responsibility. Should it be our responsibility to boycott food manufacturers that poison people? No, that’s the FDA’s responsibility, and for good reason. Citizen coordination can’t overcome power collected by every long-standing organization with interests that aren’t aligned with citizens.

As individuals, it’s respectable to consider the impact of our economic choices. But suffering to make an unnoticed point isn’t going to help, so at least annoy your friends and complain.


When I was eight, my parents moved us into their first house, in central PA. They didn’t have any friends in the area, so they called everyone in the phone book with a Chinese-sounding last name (being central PA, this was not many people) and invited them to a pizza party. I was a kid then, so my only significant memory of that gathering was the pizza. But I’m aware that twenty years later, some of their best friends were the strangers with the right last names in the phone book.

I sort of envy this systematic way of gathering random people. It’s not like now where people are unevenly findable because everyone’s on different web sites and has to opt-in. Of course, it’s lucky that my parents sought a factor available in a phone book, which doesn’t contain very deep data. The lack of deep data may also be a positive, because it assured that the people my parents befriended were diverse too. (Sometimes it’s easy to forget that there are many different kinds of Chinese people, or any minority group.)

This is all to say that gatherings are important, and I hope everyone’s found a nice one of their own for Thanksgiving!

Being boring while drunk(ish)

A few years ago I was out drinking and a friend told me that my behavior was the same as usual. I’d had probably three drinks (an immense amount by my standards), and I certainly felt different, i.e. worse. Sometime since then I decided against wasting time, money, and health on a drug that (to me) tastes unremarkable-to-awful and produces boring side effects.

I’m still puzzled by why we bother ingesting substances that are ‘acquired tastes.’ What’s wrong with the tastes we already have? Are they not challenging enough? Is this a grass is always greener scenario? Is it because ‘acquired tastes’ are mostly drugs/poisons that trick the brain?


On the other hand, once I decided to acquire a taste for pickles, and that proved to be a good, forward-thinking decision given their ubiquity in burgers.

How I hate fun

I’m going to be a serious fun-killer here, and point out how messed up it is that a good portion of fun activities for adults involve and/or require drug use. It’s even an expected activity for the workplace. That’s crazy! Professional organizations expect and support unnecessary drug use. Perhaps tomorrow I’ll write about why I hate coffee too.

Alcohol might be benign and funny for most people, but a significant number of adults (1 in 12 according to the NCADD) ‘suffer from alcohol abuse or dependence.’ That’s an insane amount of damage to our society. And for what? For lowest-common-denominator fun? For drugging away our inhibitions and stunting our development of real bravery? For filling voids where more fulfilling activities belong?

I don’t mean this to be a judgmental post. Everyone should feel free to have fun, and I have my own mindless fun-but-not-fulfilling activities. But at a societal level, where work and dating and friendship are so heavily influenced by a drug, I’m sure there’s something wrong.