MIDDLE SEAT REDESIGN: The Slide-Slip Seat, by Molon Labe, BMW Groups’ Designworks, and Panasonic Avionics, extends the curved armrest back to ensure the middle seater has access to at least half of its length. That also gives the middle seat’s in-flight entertainment system room to grow to a whopping 18 inches, compared to the puny 15-inch screens on other seat backs. For all this design prowess, however, this thing gets you nothing in extra legroom. Let’s see if airlines think that an uptick in passenger happiness may be worth the extra weight of, say, an extra-wide seatback entertainment system. Wired
The aviation design company’s newest concept moves middle seats back and down, giving passengers an extra 3 inches of width compared to fellow flyers. MOLON LABE
MOST ATTRACTIVE CITIES FOR WORK: the most (and least) attractive places for today’s workforce were ranked financially — salary, tax, and cost-of-living data. net purchasing power of a typical salary in each city. Similarly, the lifestyle ranking takes into account living conditions and social benefits, including physical threat and safety (e.g. violence, crime, medical), discomfort (e.g. climate, geographic isolation, cultural or psychological isolation) and inconvenience (e.g. availability of housing, recreation, goods and services, and education facilities). For individuals, younger workers see a flatter world and prioritize international experiences and mobility for career development. 71% of Millennials desire to work abroad at some point in their career. HBR
CHINESE IN AMERICAN HIGH SCHOOLS: Families pay $40,000 to an education consultancy to get their children enrolled in a public high school in Michigan. The ultimate goal is for them to attend a top American university. (NYTIMES)
Roughly 370,000 students from the mainland are enrolled in American high schools and universities, 6x more than a decade ago. Their financial impact — $11.4 billion was contributed to the American economy in 2015. It has turned education into one of America’s top “exports” to China.
83% of China’s millionaires are planning to send their children to school abroad. The average age, according to the poll, has dropped to 16 today from 18 in 2014 — the first time it has reached the high-school level.
In 2005, only 641 Chinese students were enrolled in American high schools. By 2014, that student population approached 40,000 — a 60-fold increase in a single decade — and it now accounts for nearly half of all international high-school students in the United States.
CHINESE IN VEGAS: The first direct flight from Beijing to Las Vegas, launched Dec. 2 by Hainan Airlines, is viewed as a major step toward the goal the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority has set to push international visitation to 30% over the next decade. International visitors currently account for 16% of traffic. (NYTIMES)
8 FLAVORS OF AMERICAN CUISINE: Based on a list of common flavors from historical cookbooks mentioned in American books from 1796 to 2000, eight popular and enduring flavors emerged: black pepper, vanilla, curry powder, chili powder, soy sauce, garlic, MSG and Sriracha.
Vanilla is here thanks to a 12-year-old slave who figured out a botanical secret no one else knew.
Chili powder spread across the country because of entrepreneurial Texan-Mexican women who fed soldiers and tourists — and a clever German immigrant who was looking for a culinary shortcut.
Sriracha has seen a meteoric rise in popularity since its debut in 1980. Sales of bottled Sriracha exceeded $60 million in 2014. A Vietnamese refugee combined elements of French and Thai cuisine, using peppers grown on a farm north of Los Angeles to make a hot sauce produced entirely in Southern California.
Japanese Chemist Dr. Kikunae Ikeda is credited with discovering MSG. Peter Van Hyning
AMERICAN TOURISTS: Don’t compliment an American’s girth. Answer their children’s questions. Fill your museum tour with fun facts. Because American tourists tend to want a personal connection to the guide, and expect the tour to be interactive and entertaining, foreign guides need special training.
GUYANA: some rural guides would give overweight Americans a thumbs-up and say things like, “Ah, packing it on — good deal!” as a compliment, equating an ample waistline with abundant wealth. Americans seem to say “thank you” for everything guides do, a custom that make the local people feel indebted to them.
UGANDA: Americans often want to become friends with their guides, and so they will ask questions about the guides’ families, education and homes to get to know them better. In Uganda, trainees sometimes ask, “Why is this person I don’t even know asking me so many personal questions?”
ITALY: The guide might need to approach the American tourist not so much as a valued family member but as a less cultured second cousin. It’s easy for a guide in Italy to reference a painter like Bellini or an architect like Borromini. Not so if the clients are Americans, whose knowledge of the Italian masters might stop at Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci. While Italians prefer an “academic” tour, Americans want a tour that is “not only informative but also entertaining, filled with stories and fun facts.”
FITBIT FOR CRUISES: Carnival has developed Fitbit-style bracelets that link to personal information, and applied them to cruises. The result: Millions of passengers on Carnival ships will soon be using a similar but more advanced system that allows travelers to do everything from plan vacations to open stateroom doors to order poolside cocktails.
Cruisers will be able to pay for food, drinks and merchandise simply by having their credit card-connected Ocean Medallion in their pocket.
Carnival’s disks, each laser-etched with the guest’s name, will also power a new, shipwide gambling platform.
WEDDING TECH: For many couples, wedding planning is a frustrating monthslong project that requires sifting through masses of details and costs on venues, services and products. The field is crowded with small, local businesses that are predominantly low tech and survive on word-of-mouth recommendations. However, the overall industry is large, with $58 billion in revenue, with an average $26,500 per wedding.
Lover.ly has been able to build a database of 65,000 vendors. A virtual wedding planners assembles a list of vendors based on a couple’s criteria, and the couples receive it within 48 hours of purchasing a service. Couples are charged from $10 to $399, and vendors $10 per client lead. Lover.ly is also beta testing its chatbot.
Another app, LadyMarry developed its own artificial intelligence bot to streamline communications between the company, vendors and couples. LadyMarry had been used to plan 90,000 weddings. It is free for couples; the company charges vendors 15-45%, depending on the location and service.
Carats & Cake partnered with the payment platform Stripe to offer online invoicing and bill paying. It has 20,000 member businesses; about 300,000 couples used the site in 2016.
PALLIATIVE CARE: In a life changing event like a permanent disability, life is not extra difficult now, but only uniquely difficult, as all lives are. Suffering is simply a “variation on a theme we all deal with — to be human is really hard.” Don’t we all treat suffering as a disruption to existence, instead of an inevitable part of it? what would happen if you could “reincorporate your version of reality, of normalcy, to accommodate suffering.”
We call ancient sculptures with missing limbs art: monumental, beautiful and important, but we’d never seen them whole. Medicine didn’t think about bodies this way. Embedded in words like “disability” and “rehabilitation” was a less generous view: “There was an aberrant moment in your life and, with some help, you could get back to what you were, or approximate it.” So, instead of regarding injuries as something to get over, try to get into them, to see life as its own novel challenge, like traveling through a country whose language you don’t speak.
All palliative-care departments and home-hospice agencies believe patients’ wishes should be honored, but Zen Hospice’s small size allows it to “actualize” these ideals more fully. Sharpen the essential set of questions: What is a good death? How do you judge? In the end, what matters?
8 WAYS TO SAVE ON TRAVEL IN 2015: The Russian ruble is tanking (as of late December, a dollar will get you 94% more than it did a year ago). Here are some other countries where you would get at least 13% more cash for your cash if you arrived there right now: Argentina (31%), Chile (16%), Mongolia (15%), Israel (13%) and — yes — Sweden (16%) and Norway (21%).
It was also a bad year for the euro, which means right now is a good time to go to Europe: You would receive about 10% more for your dollar in countries from Portugal to Slovakia.
French Kisses: When You Greet a Friend, How Many Times Do You Kiss? (Bill Rankin, radicalcartography.net)
FRENCH KISS: Most French two or four kisses, with three kisses popular in the South. 18% of Corsica go for five kisses!