Thursday, May 28, 2009

In France

I'm currently in France, thus the radio silence.

A traveler's advisory: beware when making reservations with Air France via one of their SkyTeam Alliance partners. For the second time in this situation, I arrived at the airport with a confirmed reservation and seat assignments only to be told I actually had no seat. The gate agents explained that, while I received a confirmation from Continental (it's a code share), Air France's computer system is programmed to ignore seat assignment requests from its partner. Why? They couldn't say, but has apparently long been the case.

How to avoid having no seat? Once you get your confirmation numbers for an Air France-operated flight, log on to Air France's website, enter that number, and pick you seats again if you want to be sure to have them.

This turned out to be a only a minor inconvenience for me, but a family of four waiting behind me in line wasn't as lucky. They booked their flights via Travelocity which, acccording to the gate agents, the Air France system also ignores. This poor family never got to board the plane, even though they had their confirmed reservations in their hands.

Paris is wonderful, but in future I'm going to go out of my way to avoid arriving here by Air France.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Salt Institute students' show - opening this Thursday

If you live in or near Portland, Maine and have an interest in documentary photography, narrative journalism, or documentary radio, this semester's Salt students are showing off their work this Thursday, May 21st, at the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies.

Inside Out There opens at 5pm (and closes June 2) and is an event not to be missed. (It includes projects on beekeeping, stand up comedy, roller skating, alien abductions, and wrinkle harvesters.) For more information, visit the exhibit's Facebook page.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Maine: the latest (postive) developments on local campaign finance disclosures

For those following the saga of L.D 1100, the bill that would fix Maine's municipal campaign finance disclosure mess, I've posted an update at Working Waterfront's website.

In summary: the bill's sponsor expects it to pass both houses as early as next week, which would be good news for Maine.

If you have no idea what this is about, the full saga is laid out here.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Ocean's End talk: Bath, Maine, May 14

If you live near Bath, Maine and have an interest in the future of our oceans, I'll be giving a talk on the global marine crisis and what is being done about it at the Maine Maritime Museum this Thursday, May 14.

The talk is based on my first book, Ocean's End: Travels Through Endangered Seas, an account of my global travels to investigate the environmental problems of the two-thirds of the planet that lie underwater. (I spent six weeks looking at climate and ozone effects in Antarctica, circumnavigated the Black Sea with leading scientists, politicians, and the heads of the Orthodox Christian church, and explored the reefs of Belize, the atolls of Micronesia, the bayous of Louisiana, and the outports of Newfoundland.) It's a sobering tale, but the good news is there's plenty we can do about the situation and, in this country at least, some important strides have been made.

The talk kicks off at 6pm in Long Reach Hall.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Maine campaign finance update: fix clears committee

For those poor souls who've been following my coverage of Maine's local campaign finance disclosure debacle, there's a bit of good news.

A bill that would correct the mess -- and ensure tracking of money and politics in Portland, Bangor, and other Maine cities -- cleared a key legislative committee yesterday. L.D. 1100 was unanimously endorsed by the lawmakers on the state and local government committee exactly one month after it was defeated by a vote of 12-1.

The bill moves on to the next step: passing review by the appropriations committee.

If you've no idea what any of this is about, consider listening to my piece on the issue on Maine Public Radio News' Maine Things Considered.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Interviews on pirates, classical and modern

With the pirates of Somalia in the news, I've been fielding a number of media inquiries about the parallels between the current piracy outbreak and the Golden Age Pirates. (The latter are the subject of my most recent book, The Republic of Pirates.)

My most recent interview is in today's edition of The Daily Advance in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, the newspaper of record for a swath of Blackbeard country. I also spoke about pirates with The Christian Science Monitor on April 12 (the day the captain of the Maersk Alabama was freed) and last Tuesday with San Francisco's non-profit KPOO-FM.

Finally there's a sidebar on the Somali parallels with my feature in the current issue of Military History Quarterly.