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Oct 19, 2022

“The Future of Everything” May Include Debtors Prison

Presenting the trip of a lifetime; reincarnation payment plan available

By Ed Goldman

Just in case your invitation got lost in the mail, deployed to your spam folder or laughed into oblivion, National Geographic Expeditions is hosting “a luxurious global tour like no other” from August 4-27, 2023.

It’s A 24-day romp. It costs “from $99,995 per person.”

Edgy Cartoon

Globe trotter

While that price is heart-stopping enough, I have to confess that its preceding word “from”—which was followed by the price but wasn’t followed by “to” and another price—dimmed my fervor. I’m a guy who likes to budget for extravagancy.

So is it “from $99,995 to $99,996,“ “from $99,995 to $80 million” or from $99,995 to best offer,” or what?

Does it include more than that miniscule crackers-and-pretzels bag on the flights (a specialty of Southwest, though this boondoggle involves Icelandair)? Free baggage check? Or, as one hopes at that price, limousine service to and from the airport, onto the tarmac, up and down the gangway to and from the airplane, through the hotel lobbies and into our beds? And will the pillows in those beds contain a chocolate mint or, again, at these prices, a Willy Wonka sampler?

Or Willy Wonka himself?

The tour, modestly entitled “The Future of Everything: Exploring Global Innovation by Private Jet,” includes stopovers in Seattle, Kyoto, Singapore, Seoul, “Ulaanbaatar or Gobi” (I guess the tour operators aren’t sure which one will be open that week), Uzbekistan, Estonia, Helsinki, Finland, Iceland and, finally, the most dangerous destination on the itinerary, Washington, DC. 

“Join an exclusive group of journalists and experts for a once-in-a-lifetime” experience, reads the announcement. This prompts a couple of questions: 

–  Why aren’t journalists considered “experts?” 

– What legitimate journalist has that kind of scratch to plop down on a trip?

“With world-class accommodations on each step of our journey, we’ll visit 10 iconic destinations across three continents—from colorful bazaars and secluded temples to cutting-edge research facilities and cyber hubs—and witness how innovators are forging new paths forward for the planet. It’s a trip that goes beyond any bucket list.”

Here’s a fun afternoon activity for you and your kids or grandkids if there’s ever another rainy season: Print out the paragraph above and see who can circle the most cliches in three minutes. Here’s a helpful starters’ guide:

1. World-class
2. Iconic
3. Across three continents
4. Colorful bazaars (would you pay nearly a hundred grand to visit a monochromatic bazaar?)

5. Secluded temples (overt temples are so twee)
6. Cutting-edge
7. Cyber hubs
8. Forging new paths (forging old paths is tedious work)
9. Bucket list
Finally, it should go without saying—though nothing which starts with that clause ever does—that customers for this trip will expect a serious swag bag. Here are some suggestions:

a. A pony;
b. A year’s supply of Kobe steaks along with a year’s supply of Japanese chefs (Ginsu knives not included);
c. A personalized Pacific island (until supplies run out);
d. Two ponies;
e. Shares in Icelandair;
f. Total ownership of Icelandair;
g. Iceland.

Note: Certain travel restrictions may apply—like your having neither a current passport nor $99,995 on hand.

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Ed Goldman's column appears almost every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. A former daily columnist for the Sacramento Business Journal, as well as monthly columnist for Sacramento Magazine and Comstock’s Business Magazine, he’s the author of five books, two plays and one musical (so far).