2020 COVID and Technology Changed How We Travel

Matthew Kitchen of the Wall Street Journal on how 2020 has changed how we use technology forever:

With international restrictions in place, those fueled by wanderlust took virtual walks atop the Great Wall of China, around Easter Island’s heads or through the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. Some 2.2 million people have found inspiration or solace in photos posted on the Facebook group “View From My Window,” where members can share shots of the beautiful sites they spy everyday. Others hopped aboard “flights to nowhere” that took off and landed in the same spot after a few hours in the air—OK, maybe some trends won’t last forever.

Why are Tall People so Successful in Business?

Arianne Cohen, author of The Tall Book (2009,) talking to the Wall Street Journal on the benefits and drawbacks to extreme height:

There are numerous statistics documenting tall success–tall folks earn $789 more per inch per year, a figure that’s stayed steady for the past five decades in both the U.S. and U.K.–but no one had every looked at why. And what I found is that much of it is behavioral–tall people consistently display a few behaviors that are directly correlated to success, which can be mimicked by anyone.

Rajan Datar’s Travel Survival Guide

Rajan Datar, the host of Fast Track, BBC World News’ flagship travel program, voyaged to over 50 nations on five continents in six years. His suggestions for travel, cultural appreciation, and survival:

  • Suspend judgment on a new country until after your first night there
  • Try to prepare for what you might want in the most way out places e.g. the layout of a city or Earl Grey teabags
  • Meet people – they make a place special and also know more than any travel book about new developments
  • No matter where you go in the world – football, personal politics and music are common languages. My personal fave: “Who’s playing reggae round here?” You’d be surprised how many reggae and ska gigs/clubs I’ve found from Beijing to Berlin and Bogota

Create Device-Free Zones In Your Home

Hina Talib, an adolescent medicine specialist at Children’s Hospital at Montefiore, offers tips to help your household’s digital wellness practice:

  • Eliminate phones from tables at mealtime and bedrooms overnight. (You might need to buy an alarm clock.)
  • Try screen-free Saturday mornings or a daily “no-power” hour, and use that for family time instead.
  • Challenge each other to a one-day phone fast. The first person to lose does everyone’s laundry for a week.

Remote life can leave both kids and adults with screen fatigue and craving human connection.

The Evolution of Tribalism

Social psychologist Jonathan Haidt in NYTimes.com, a selection from his book The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion (2012):

We evolved to be tribal, and politics is a competition among coalitions of tribes. When people feel that a group they value—be it racial, religious, regional, or ideological—is under attack, they rally to its defense, even at some cost to themselves. The great trick that humans developed at some point in the last few hundred thousand years is the ability to circle around a tree, rock, ancestor, flag, book, or god, and then treat that thing as sacred. People who worship the same idol can trust one another, work as a team, and prevail over less cohesive groups. So if you want to understand politics, and especially our divisive culture wars, you must follow the sacredness.

The Window Tax and Tax Avoidance

From Wikipedia,

Window tax was a property tax based on the number of windows in a house. It was a significant social, cultural, and architectural force in England, France, and Ireland during the 18th and 19th centuries. To avoid the tax some houses from the period can be seen to have bricked-up window-spaces (ready to be glazed or reglazed at a later date.)

Form a paper on The Biases of Thinking Fast and Thinking Slow,

The window tax must rank among the very worst taxes in the history of Western Civilization. The window tax in Great Britain (1696—1851) provides a remarkable case of tax-induced distortions in resource allocation. Tax liabilities on dwelling units depended on the number of windows in the unit. As a consequence, people boarded up windows and built houses with very few windows, to the detriment of both health and aesthetics. Using data from local tax records on individual houses, the analysis in the paper finds compelling evidence of such tax-avoidance and goes on to make a rough calculation of the excess burden associated with the tax.

A comment on economist Tyler Cowen’s blog, Marginal Revolution:

Bear in mind that a large window wasn’t limited to one pane of glass. Indeed, most windows were divided into small panes of the typical “bull’s-eye” glass that can still be seen today in many of them. Each pane was made by blowing a globe of glass which was then opened out and flattened (more or less) into a pane. The size of the pane was limited by the size of the globe that could be blown.

Larger windows were made by adding stone or wooden mullions to increase the structural strength. I suppose the limiting factor would have been the strength of the timber lintel supporting the wall above the window. For brick or stone structures, the arch could support almost unlimited spans (for the Church or the very wealthy.)

Boeing’s NMA2 in the Offing?

The Wall Street Journal reported that Boeing is planning a new large narrow-body aircraft to combat the A321. Ernest Arvai of the AirInsight consulting group remarks,

With the MAX closing in on certification and a return to service, Boeing realizes that it needs a better competitor to the A321 than the MAX, which simply doesn’t compete well at the higher end of the seat range.

But that higher end of the seat range, combined with longer-range capabilities, places the A321 as the natural replacement for the 757 in the middle of the market. The segment that Boeing initially created with the 757 and 767 has effectively been conceded to Airbus, as Boeing doesn’t offer a truly competitive product.

Hiring Experts Reveal Their Favorite Questions

Arianne Cohen of Bloomberg Businessweek magazine has top interviewers reveal the curveballs that distinguish job seekers from job getters:

  • Who do you most admire and why? … “Reveals a lot about who the candidate is, who she aspires to be, and whether she has the DNA to be part of a company’s culture.”
  • In your last employee review, what areas for improvement were identified? … “Illuminates self-awareness and potential weaknesses.”
  • Why are you here? … “Is an effective way to gauge whether the person is interested in working for us or simply seeking a job.”
  • What is your passion? … “Passion leads to success. I have turned folks away who could not frankly answer this.”
  • You’re a project manager? Tell me about a time you had a delayed project. … “Provides huge insights into their level of critical thinking, adaptability, awareness of their impact, and creativity.”
  • Describe an environment in which you would not thrive. … “Tells a remarkable amount about personality, as well as cultural and organizational impact. Ask this question early in an interview… it yields color for a richer conversation.”
  • If you could do anything, what would be your ideal job? … “Helps indicate the individual’s passions and strengths and whether they’re well-matched to the job.”

Gustav Mahler and Alma Mahler

Pulitzer prize-winning journalist Brigid Schulte writes in The Guardian that the long stretches of time alone that creative geniuses—mostly men—afforded was facilitated by the dedicated women in their lives:

Gustav Mahler married a promising young composer named Alma, then forbade her from composing, saying there could be only one in the family. Instead, she was expected to keep the house utterly silent for him. After his midday swim, he’d whistle for Alma to join him on long, silent walks while he composed in his head. She’d sit for hours on a branch or in the grass, not daring to disturb him. “There’s such a struggle going on in me!” Alma wrote in her diary. “And a miserable longing for someone who thinks OF ME, who helps me to find MYSELF! I’ve sunk to the level of a housekeeper!”

11 Best Hiking Spots in Europe

Lori Zaino of The Points Guy blog picks incredible European hiking vacations:

  1. Caminito del Rey, Málaga, Spain
  2. Samariá Gorge, Crete, Greece
  3. Paklenica National Park, Starigrad, Croatia
  4. Alpe Adria Trail, Italy, Austria, and Slovenia
  5. Rota Vicentina, Portugal
  6. Croaghaun Cliffs, Achill Island, Ireland
  7. Roque Nublo, Gran Canaria, Spain
  8. The Painters’ Way, Pirna, Germany
  9. Tour du Mont Blanc, Switzerland, Italy and France
  10. Hornelen, Bremanger, Norway