Culture

Geeks Win! CDs Still Reign in Japan

Curated by CLAI

What’s out may stay be in and what was out is now in. It sounds like fashion, but today we are talking about CDs and geeks.

The CD is still popular! In Japan. Maybe I’m nostalgic, but in such an intangible world of SnapChats and Vines, I love flipping through a book or admiring a CD cover (because someone actual put thought behind creating the art). It’s real and touchable. Though let’s see how long the CD will last compared to the cassette tape.

And geek culture is now in??? Movies like 21 Jump Street where Channing Tatum doesn’t get the girl and 17-year old millionaires who built and sold apps have made being smart and intelligent something to aspire to. Will magazines now start focusing on brains instead of brawn? Probably not. Sex sells.

GEEK CULTURE MAINSTREAM: Never before has the boundary between geek culture and mainstream culture been so porous. Becoming mainstream is the wrong word; the mainstream is catching up. Growing up, pre-Internet, possession of knowledge was such an identifier. That is no longer true; the Internet flattens things out. From gadgets to social networks to video games, the decision not to embrace the newest technology is a choice to be out of the mainstream.

  • With millions watching via computer, Tim Cook, the Apple chief executive, who has an industrial engineering degree, unveiled three versions of the watch, hoping to broaden the appeal of a fashion accessory traditionally worn by the calculus crowd.
  • With millions watching via computer, Tim Cook, the Apple chief executive, who has an industrial engineering degree, unveiled three versions of the watch, hoping to broaden the appeal of a fashion accessory traditionally worn by the calculus crowd.
Don't That Geek

Don’t That Geek

CDs STILL ALIVE IN JAPAN: Japan may be one of the world’s perennial early adopters of new technologies, but its continuing attachment to the CD puts it sharply at odds with the rest of the global music industry.

  • While CD sales are falling worldwide, including in Japan, they still account for about 85% of sales here, compared with as little as 20% in some countries, like Sweden, where online streaming is dominant.
  • Japanese consumers’ love for collectible goods. Greatest hits albums do particularly well in Japan, because of the elaborate, artist-focused packaging.

History of Eggs and Jeans

Curated by CLAI

BLUE JEANS: The nation’s devotion to denim is wearing thin. Sales fell a significant 6% over the last year after decades of steady growth since Marlon Brando’s 1950s.

  • Sales of yoga pants and other active wear climbed 7% in the same period. Everyone wants to look like they’re running to the gym, even if they’re not.
  • Blue jeans’ fade could also be due to a lack of new styles since brightly colored skinnies hit the market several years ago.
Levi's didn't even call them "jeans" until after James Dean wore them. Would he have preferred stretch fabrics and elastic waistbands?

James Dean in Jeans (AP)

WASH EGGS: About a 100 years ago, many people around the world washed their eggs. But there are a lot of ways to do it wrong, so the method got a bad reputation in certain parts of the world.

  • By 1970, the U.S. Department of Agriculture had perfected the art of the wash with the help of fancy machines, and it required all egg producers to do it to prevent salmonella.
  • Meanwhile, many European countries were prohibiting washing, as egg-laying hens are vaccinated against salmonella.
  • Asian countries never got on board with it. The exception was Japan, which joined the egg-washers after a bad spate of salmonella in the 1990s.
To refrigerate or not to refrigerate? It boils down to bacteria, aesthetics and how much energy you're willing to use.

Refrigerated v. room temperature eggs (Robert S. Donovan; Flickr / Alex Barth; Flickr)

The Truth about Travel and Vacations

Curated by CLAI

THE MORE YOU TRAVEL, THE MORE YOU LOSE SIGHT OF WHO YOU ARE

  • Because you realize that the more you spread the breadth of your experience across the globe, the thinner and more meaningless it becomes. You realize that there’s something to be said to limiting oneself, not just geographically, but also emotionally. That there’s a certain depth of experience and meaning that can only be achieved when one picks a single piece of creation and says, “This is it. This is where I belong.”
  • The self is highly adaptable to its external environment, and ironically, the more you change your external environment, the more you lose track of who you actually are, because there’s nothing solid to compare yourself against. With frequent travel, so many variables in your life are changing that it’s hard to isolate a control variable and see the effect everything else has on it. You are in a constant state of upheaval.
  • Because uncertainty breeds skepticism, it breeds openness, and it breeds non-judgment. Because uncertainty helps you to grow and evolve.
Castillo de San Felipe in Cartagena, Colombia

Castillo de San Felipe in Cartagena, Colombia (Christine Lai)

WHY DON’T AMERICANS TAKE VACATION? Many people chasing the American Dream are working long hours and skipping vacation to reach it. Most employees strongly believe, compared with people in other countries, that hard work pays off in success. Americans who work over 40 hours a week are more happy than those who work less – so are they happy being overworked? Europeans, on the other hand, are different – they seem to value leisure time more, and accordingly those who work over 40 hours are less happy than those working less.

Extravagant Happiness, Emails on Holiday Mode

Curated by CLAI

EXTRAVAGANT V. ORDINARY HAPPINESS: Extraordinary experiences bring great joy throughout life. No surprise there. But the older people got, the more happiness ordinary experiences delivered. In fact, the happiness-making potential of everyday pursuits eventually grows equal to that of ones that are rarer.

Extraordinary v. ordinary happiness

Extraordinary v. ordinary happiness (Robert Neubecker, NYTIMES)

EMAILS ON HOLIDAY MODE: At Daimler, the German automaker, employees can set their corporate email to “holiday mode” when they are on vacation.  Anyone who emails them gets an auto-reply saying the employee isn’t in, and offering contact details for an alternate, on-call staff person. Then poof, the incoming email is deleted — so that employees don’t have to return to inboxes engorged with digital missives in their absence.

  • Volkswagen and Deutsche Telekom have adopted policies that limit work-related email to some employees on evenings and weekends. If this can happen in precision-mad, high-productivity Germany, could it happen in the United States?
  • White-collar cubicle dwellers spend 28% of their workweek slogging through email. They check their messages 74 times a day, on average. 38% check work email “routinely” at dinner peeking at the phone under the table

Money & Bras: From Corsets to Brassieres, States with the Biggest Bang for Your Buck

Curated by CLAI

THE BRA: Women today breathe a little easier — thanks to a World War I metal shortage. Since corset frames were mostly made of metal, which was needed for ammunition and other military supplies, in 1917 the U.S. War Industries Board asked American women to stop buying them.

  • Caresse Crosby patented the first modern bra in the U.S. in 1910.
  • Some historians credit William and Ida Rosenthal, founders of Maidenform, with introducing the A-, B-, C- and D-cup system in the late 1920s or early ’30s, while others claim it was S.H. Camp and Company.
  • When the androgynous flapper look came into vogue in the Roaring Twenties, so-called bandeau bras — which flattened the breasts — became the popular choice.
  • Today, nearly 95% of women in Western countries wear bras, which translates to a billion-dollar industry dominated by Victoria’s Secret and corporations like Hanes.
Brassiere in 1914

Brassiere in 1914

STATES WITH BEST BANG FOR YOUR BUCK: You’d squeeze the most out of $100 in Mississippi, where you could use it to buy $115.74 worth of goods and services, relative to the national average. Arkansas comes next, followed by Missouri, Alabama and South Dakota. The state where $100 falls flattest is Hawaii, where that same $100 gets you only $85.32. (D.C., though not a state, is even worse: It would buy you just $84.60 in goods.)

Relative Value of $100 in States in the U.S. (WAPO)