What Puerto Rico Needs After Hurricane Maria
Not long after the great hurricane cut across Puerto Rico, overwhelming
the island with hundred-and-forty-mile-an-hour winds and a summer’s
worth of rain in two days, the Times ran an article headlined “What
Puerto Rico Needs.” In testimony before a committee of the U.S. House of
Representatives, the paper reported, the territory’s governor had
described the aftermath of the storm with pessimism: “The people were
discouraged. They lacked the Anglo-Saxon energy to face a gloomy
outlook.” For the half a million Puerto Ricans “prostrated by the
hurricane,” another correspondent wrote, “paternalism will be not only
not misplaced here, but it is almost necessary.” The island’s residents,
especially its poor, had been deprived of their homes, their crops, and
their livelihoods. As a headline from late September put it, “Many Peons
Such blatantly racist characterizations are the tipoff to the fact that
the Times stories ran more than a century ago, that the governor in
question was a U.S. Army general appointed by the President, and that
the hurricane was San Ciriaco, a Category 4 storm that struck in the
summer of 1899, less than a year after the United States took possession
of Puerto Rico from Spain, and killed nearly thirty-four hundred people.
Today, as the island struggles to recover from another meteorological
there are no overt references to the lack of “Anglo-Saxon energy” or to
“peons,” but the deep structures of injustice that have long defined the
ties between Puerto Rico and the United States remain.
The scale of the recent devastation has been slow to register in the
wider American imagination, partly because infrastructure damage has
made communication difficult, if not often impossible. Yet other, less
tangible factors have also kept Puerto Rico on the margins of the
nation’s consciousness. In the first days after the screeching winds hit
San Juan, television crews were deployed to Mexico City to record the
nearly simultaneous tragedy that occurred there, an
earthquake with a magnitude of 7.1.
Images from a heartbreaking vigil outside a demolished school filled
U.S. screens for two days, but the heartbreak in San Juan and Ponce and
Aguadilla and Arecibo remained largely invisible. Only a few weeks ago,
around-the-clock television saturation made the
Florida hurricanes national obsessions; Puerto Rico, by contrast, has suffered a
kind of media blackout. Perhaps the networks have been inhibited by
logistical difficulties, but reporters and camera operators are
regularly deployed to battlefields and refugee camps around the world,
logistics be damned. No, mainland American journalists have just not
found the fate of Puerto Ricans to be all that compelling—worth a
mention, not a lead.
A day after Maria made landfall, the White House announced that
President Trump had signed a disaster declaration for Puerto Rico,
dispatching the Federal Emergency Management Agency and other government
organizations to help. They began mounting search-and-rescue operations,
sending barges and cargo planes full of food and water, and restoring
power to the island’s hospitals—efforts that are still in
progress. Trump, meanwhile,
promptly moved on to his latest distraction: publicly scolding black
football players for failing to stand during the national
He drew criticism, especially from Democrats, for engaging in a
cockfight with the N.F.L. when he should have been rallying the nation
around the situation unfolding in Puerto Rico. Not until Monday night,
after a weekend spent tweeting about the Obamacare
“the Russia hoax,” and “our great American flag,” did he note that the
island was in “deep trouble.” Earlier today, he said that he would
travel to Puerto Rico himself next week.
Trump’s failure of empathy, not to mention leadership, was no surprise.
The surprise was the press. With few exceptions, including a ringing Times editorial,
the print and broadcast media, as usual, rose to Trump’s fake-patriotism
bait, leaving one of the nation’s largest humanitarian crises in years
as an afterthought. On Monday, I saw a breathless cable-news intro that
touted several upcoming stories tied to Trump’s tweets—the football
knee-taking, the Obamacare minuet, North Korea at a boil—before adding,
“And that doesn’t even mention Puerto Rico.” This time, not even the
mention was a mention.
That no news editor working today would countenance mentions of
“Anglo-Saxon energy” or “peons” in reports about Puerto Rico does not
mean that the racist and colonialist character of our nation’s
relationship with one of its last territories has been reckoned with.
Well before Hurricane Maria, and even Irma, which only the week
before knocked out much of the power grid, Puerto Rico was in crisis.
it has for years been burdened by savage public debt, an unemployment
rate double that of the continental United States, and a poverty rate of
more than forty per cent. These straits are due not to a lack of
“Anglo-Saxon energy” but to the basic inequities of the island’s skewed
economy and a patronizing U.S. Congress that appears content with the
demeaning neverland between statehood and independence, either of which
would mark a new and better day for Puerto Rico. Ever since the Treaty
of Paris, the island has been condemned to suffer, in classic colonial
fashion, while being forced to say please and thanks.
“What Puerto Rico Needs” remains the question. It must be taken up as a
priority by Congress, and generous federal assistance must be voted
soon. But the need is immediate, and every part
of American society must respond. That begins by paying attention. Last
Friday, as Maria moved out to sea, Andrew Cuomo, the governor of New
York, visited Puerto Rico; back in Manhattan two days later, he held a
press conference. “Instead of arguing with football players, focus on
the Americans that are in desperate need,” Cuomo said. Here, too, an
echo from the deep past could be heard. In another Times article from
1899, “Help for Puerto Ricans,” the governor of New York at the time,
Theodore Roosevelt, said, “They have been in a moment reduced to
complete destitution. Their homes have been swept away, their businesses
prostrated, their occupations stopped. Thousands of families are without
roofs, without clothing, without food.” That such compassion could come
from the former commander of the Rough Riders, the cavalry regiment that
helped end the Spanish-American War and, by extension, set the American
empire running, only emphasizes our current failure of empathy.
Roosevelt concluded, “I appeal to the people of the great State of New
York to lead in giving them the relief so urgently needed.”
via Everything http://ift.tt/2i2hEWb
September 26, 2017 at 09:38PM
Lufthansa Finds Collecting Passenger Data Is Easier Than Actually Using It
Christian Langer (left), Lufthansa Group’s chief digital officer, speaks to Skift aviation editor Brian Sumers about the challenges of effectively using all that passenger data the airline collects. The conversation took place September 26, 2017 at Skift Global Forum in New York City. Skift
— Sean O’Neill
Lufthansa Group says it has become adept at collecting data about its business. But the German flagship carrier acknowledges that it still faces a challenge to take control of all the information and apply it to solving specific challenges.
Compared to its peers, Lufthansa is a pioneer of digital innovation in airlines. But even pioneers are hampered by the disconnect between digital experience and the physical and pragmatic realities of real-world operations. Optimizing boarding, doing preventive maintenance, enhancing yield management, rationalizing mileage programs, and improving gate allocation are just a few of the tasks airlines face — all of which require different analytical views of the same data.
On Tuesday, there was a fine example of this digital dilemma cited by Christian Langer, Lufthansa Group’s chief digital officer, while he was on-stage at Skift Global Forum in New York City in a chat with Skift aviation business editor Brian Sumers.
Langer said he had once asked his teams that, if his staff found out from a sweep of passenger data that a particular flight between Frankfurt and Johannesburg was going to have 50 Chinese nationals on it, how long would it take for the operations side of the business to put five Mandarin-speaking flight crewmembers on that flight.
“The answer was something like five months,” Langer said. “So it’s worthless for us to improve our predictive power if we’re not able to use it… [We ask ourselves:] How can we get the physical reaction time down to the time we’re able to predict something?”
Airlines like Lufthansa are rapidly improving in their ability to analyze data. The rise of machine learning will speed up that curve, Langer said.
“Artificial intelligence and all of that other stuff will become a commonality before pilots are fully replaced [by autopilot],” Langer said.
Langer’s boss, CEO Carsten Spohr, has said his worst fear is that Google will control the travel experience, with companies like Lufthansa Group becoming commoditized transportation providers. When it comes to addressing the ownership of the customer relationship, Sphor has a strategy that’s a work in progress.
Yet, from Langer’s perspective as a digital officer, he believes that technology can help Lufthansa and other airlines optimize their use of information on their most loyal customers — something no gatekeeper (such as major online marketplaces) can compete with.
For consumers, the most urgent matter is improving their experience from gate to gate. Langer agreed that the boarding pass as we know it is broken. He joked that the solution is for people to fly business class instead of coach.
More seriously, he said Lufthansa has been experimenting with streamlined processes for boarding.
But he hinted that there is a lot of complexity in the system that is not entirely in its own control, such as local regulation and having to cooperate with airports. In other words, practical and commercial can cause challenges that cause gaps in data collection and analysis. Yet these can be surmounted with creativity, he said.
When it comes to the pace of change and the challenges he noted, Langer was optimistic overall.
“My vision of the future is that identity, loyalty, and payment will be one,” Langer said. He also referenced the REM lyric “It’s the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine.”
Related: We’re excited to announce that you can live stream select sessions from Skift Global Forum on the Yahoo Finance homepage, this Tuesday and Wednesday, September 26 and 27. This includes our session with Expedia’s new CEO Mark Okerstrom and the CEOs of TripAdvisor, Delta, and Marriott.
via Skift https://skift.com
September 26, 2017 at 09:26PM
Republicans Sadly Admit Their Dream of Keeping Poor People from Living Longer Is Over
WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—Saddened and more than a little wistful, Senate Republicans acknowledged on Tuesday that their long-standing dream of keeping poor people from living longer was at its end.
Choking back tears, Senator Lindsey Graham admitted that his crusade to halt the longevity of the poor had turned out to be a quixotic one at best.
“We made a solemn promise to the American people that we would do everything in our power to keep the poor from living so darn long,” he said, his voice quavering. “We didn’t get it done.”
While saying that he did not want to “play the blame game,” Graham could not resist pointing fingers at senators who broke ranks with the G.O.P. leadership over its quest to stall the poor’s unacceptably surging life expectancy.
“I always thought that preventing the poor from living longer was a bedrock Republican principle,” he said bitterly. “I guess I was wrong.”
On the House side, Speaker Paul Ryan urged Graham not to wallow in defeat but to move on to other Republican agenda items, like tax reform. “We may not be able to keep the poor from living longer, but we can still make them poorer,” he said.
via Everything http://ift.tt/2i2hEWb
September 26, 2017 at 09:02PM
The Front Row: “Certified Copy”
In response to the Iranian government’s censorious laws regarding
movies, in the early two-thousands, the director Abbas Kiarostami’s films became
increasingly abstract, as if to evoke, in its absence, the teeming
diversity of life that was banned from his work and from Iranian cinema
over all. His 2010 film, “Certified Copy”—the first feature that he made
outside Iran—puts in much that, in Iran, he had to leave out, and from
the start, its warmth, humor, tenderness, and light tone, even regarding
serious situations, has the feel of a revelation, and of a liberation.
Filming Juliette Binoche, as an art dealer, and William Shimell, as a
writer, who meet—or meet again—in a picturesque Italian town, Kiarostami
seems to savor the ability to film relationships between men and women
(even passionately tangled ones) uninhibitedly. But he distills the idea
of cinematic romance—and, for that matter, romance itself—into a mighty
and audacious symbolic, and also dramatic, invention. The film leaves it
unclear whether the protagonists’ tale is one of a new romantic bond or
a former romance renewed, whether it’s a story of biological or adoptive
paternity, a story of family or of a fleeting encounter, of eroticism
past or future. The audacious elusiveness of the action is more than an
aesthetic trick—it’s a new realm of freedom in personal relationships as
in art. Here, Kiarostami boldly reimagines more than the romantic
comedy—he reimagines romance itself.
via Everything http://ift.tt/2i2hEWb
September 26, 2017 at 08:33PM
See St. Thomas Airport Reopen After Hurricane Destruction
It’s been a terrible hurricane season for the Caribbean. Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria — both Category 5 storms when they made landfall in the Caribbean — have caused catastrophic damage to the islands.
US territories in the Virgin Islands took direct blows from both hurricanes. St. Thomas and St. John were devastated by Irma before Maria passed nearby shortly after. St. Croix missed the worst of Irma, but got a direct hit from Maria, the 10th strongest hurricane ever on record, packing top sustained winds of 175 mph.
US Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) scrambled first responders to the stricken islands to provide support and relief. And despite massive damage, recovery efforts are already showing.
While “mercy” or “rescue” flights have been operating out of the St. Thomas airport (STT) since just after the storm, we now have a re-opening date for the airport. The Virgin Islands Consortium reports that commercial flights will resume from STT on Thursday. However, it looks like flights might resume even earlier than that. Delta has a scheduled commercial flight from Atlanta (ATL) to STT Wednesday morning. With fare caps in place, the full-fare nonstop flight costs just $199 before taxes:
Officially, American Airlines’s STT operations remain suspended with no reported date of restarting. However, there looks to be a one-off flight from Miami (MIA) to STT on Thursday — with just one seat left. There are no other scheduled AA flights to STT through the end of the month.
In order for recovery flights to start, the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) flew in a mobile air traffic control tower. There’s no word on whether this “tower” will still be in operation when commercial flights resume.
— The FAA (@FAANews) September 13, 2017
While the airport is reopened to commercial flights, St. Thomas has been severely affected by Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria. Considering this, airlines issued wide-open travel waiver dates for flights to St. Thomas (STT). If you have an upcoming trip to St. Thomas, here are your options:
- Original travel dates: September 5 to April 2, 2018
- Must have bought your ticket by September 18, 2017
- Rebook travel anytime between September 23, 2017 to September 30, 2018
- You can’t change your origin or destination city, and you must rebook in same cabin or pay the fare difference.
- This means you can only make free changes to your dates for flights to/from St. Thomas. To change your destination, the airline is charging a difference between the fare you paid and the current fare for the new flights.
- Original travel dates: September 5 to April 2, 2018
- Ticket must be reissued by: October 31, 2017
- Rebooked travel must begin no later than: September 27, 2018
- When rescheduled travel occurs beyond September 27, 2018, the change fee will be waived. However, a difference in fare may apply. Final travel must be completed by end of ticket validity, one year from date of original issue.
- If travel cannot be rescheduled within these guidelines, customers may cancel their reservation and apply any unused value of the ticket toward the purchase of a new ticket for a period of one year from the original ticket issuance.
- In addition, Delta is waiving all pet fees for flights to/from STT through September 29, 2017
- Original travel dates: September 5 to January 15, 2018
- Must have bought your ticket by September 10
- New flights must be rebooked by Sunday, October 15, 2017
- Rebook travel anytime through January 15, 2018
- To rebook travel or request a refund online, click here. If you are already checked in for your flight, call JetBlue at 1-800-JETBLUE (538-2583) for assistance with rebooking or a credit.
- Original travel dates: September 5 to October 31
- Modification charge/fare difference waived through: November 15
- After this date the modification charge is waived, but a fare difference may apply.
- Customers can make changes to their reservations by going to the Manage Travel page or calling Spirit at 801-401-2222.
- Original travel dates: September 5 to April 2, 2018
- Tickets must be reissued by: October 31
- The change fee and any difference in fare will be waived for new United flights departing between September 5, 2017, and April 2, 2018, as long as travel is rescheduled in the originally ticketed cabin (any fare class) and between the same cities as originally ticketed.
- For wholly rescheduled travel departing after April 2, 2018, or for a change in departure or destination city, the change fee will be waived, but a difference in fare may apply. Rescheduled travel must be completed within one year from the date when the ticket was issued.
Featured image by FEMA.
via The Points Guy http://ift.tt/26yIAN2
September 26, 2017 at 08:16PM
5 Islands in and Around the Caribbean That You Can Still Visit
5 Islands in and Around the Caribbean That You Can Still Visit
Hurricanes Irma and Maria upended life in the Caribbean and beyond, wreaking havoc on islands stretching from Barbuda to Puerto Rico.
The scale of the damage is still being determined, but many islands in a region that draws the jet set for fall and winter getaways were largely unscathed. In fact, nearly 70 percent were not damaged by the hurricanes and are eager to delicately tout that they’re open for business, according to Frank Comito, the chief executive officer of the Caribbean Hotel Association, an organization that represents hotels and tourism-related businesses in 32 Caribbean destinations. (The organization has created a site, caribbeantravelupdate.com, where travelers can learn the latest on travel to the Caribbean).
Beach getaways are no superficial affair in the Caribbean and the neighboring Lucayan Archipelago, where many islands rely on tourism. Spending by vacationers in this currently beleaguered region will determine its economic future.
Below are five islands that are open for business, along with an affordable and high-end hotel package for each.
The hurricanes didn’t completely spare the Bahamas, a 100,000 square-mile nation comprised of 700 islands: according to Joy Jibrilu, the director general of the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism, Irma destroyed some islands not known to tourists, such as Ragged Island, which saw total devastation. “The islands that see tourists were mostly untouched,” she said. One example is New Providence, home to the city of Nassau, which is a big tourist draw.
The Splurge: One & Only Ocean Club, situated on Nassau’s Paradise Island, has the Sweet Family Escape. It includes accommodations, a family picnic, three of hours of babysitting, free meals for kids at the resort’s restaurants, Dune and Ocean Grill, or through room service, and daily milk and cookies for kids. From $765 a night. Book by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 888-528-7157.
The Steal: Grand Hyatt Baha Mar, part of the 1,000-acre Baha Mar resort, has a Sunshine on Sale deal, where guests pay for three nights and receive the fourth night free. From $219 a night before the discount. Call 242-788-1234 for more details and to book.
This southern Caribbean island of 110,000 people is a less than a five-hour nonstop flight from the East Coast and had no physical impact from the two storms. According to the chief executive officer of the Aruba Tourism Authority, Ronella Tjin Asjoe-Croes, vacationers to Aruba will find world-class snorkeling and diving and a flourishing dining scene of more than 300 restaurants. “We have more than 90 nationalities living on the island, and the cuisine here, including Italian, Dutch and Indian spots, reflects this diversity,” she said.
The Splurge: Bucuti & Tara Beach Resort has a five-night package that includes accommodations, breakfast, two yoga sessions and a session with the resort’s nutritionist. From $2,805 for two people. Valid from now until March 31. Book by calling 888-428-2884 or emailing email@example.com.
The Steal: Amsterdam Manor Beach Resort Aruba has a Deluxe Romance package. It includes accommodations in a studio room; a bottle of Champagne as a welcome amenity; an in-room breakfast with Champagne; a dinner for two at the resort’s restaurant, Passions on the Beach; a private sunset cruise; and two bath robes. From $260 per person, per night. Valid from Dec. 22 to Dec 21, 2018. Book by calling 800-969-2310.
Mr. Comito, of the Caribbean Hotel Association, said that the three Cayman Islands saw no impact whatsoever from Irma and Maria. Grand Cayman is especially popular with vacationers. “There’s incredible diving, and it’s easy to get to with lots of airlift from the U.S.,” Mr. Comito said.
The Splurge: Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa has the Five Diamonds for Fall package: guests who book a five-night stay in a one-bedroom suite receive five amenities including a welcome amenity of a bottle of sparkling wine and macarons; an hourlong massage at the property’s spa; a three-course dinner for two, along with a bottle of wine, at the property’s main restaurant, Ave; a poolside cabana for a half-day with a bucket of five local craft brews; and a turndown amenity on the last night of a sting ray pendant and five truffles. From $1,555 a night. Bookable starting September 25 for stays through December 18. Book by calling 888-226-4412.
The Steal: Sunshine Suites Resort has a Bring the Kids deal: families stay in a room with a full kitchen and receive breakfast daily for up to four people. Kids who are under eight years old eat lunch and dinner for free, when they are accompanied by a paying adult. A second room can be booked at half-off the price of the first room. Nightly rates from $162. Valid through December 21. Book by calling 877-786-1110.
CreditPiotr Redlinski for The New York Times
Like many of the islands in the Southern Caribbean, St. Lucia was not at all impacted by the two hurricanes. “Our hotels and businesses are all open and ready to welcome visitors,” said the island’s Prime Minister, Allen Chastanet. JetBlue has nonstop flights to the island from New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport, and a handful of carriers offer connections through Miami.
The Splurge: Jade Mountain Resort has a five-night Total Romance package, which includes accommodations, all meals; most alcoholic and nonalcoholic drinks; airport transfers; a welcome amenity of two cocktails; a one-hour massage per person; a scuba diving lesson for two people; a bottle of Champagne; a guided snorkeling boat trip; and a half-day sailing trip. From $9,732. Valid from January 3 to April 15, 2018. Book by calling 1-800-223-1108.
The Steal: Bay Gardens Inn has a special nightly rate through April 2018 that includes daily breakfast, a welcome drink of rum punch, nonmotorized water sports and six one-hour passes to Splash Island, a water park located near the property. From $85 a night. The property also has a rate inclusive of all meals and alcoholic drinks which starts at $225 a night. Book by calling 877-620-3200.
CreditRobert Rausch for The New York Times
Why go Jamaica? “Why not?” said Donnie Dawson, the island-nation’s interim director of tourism. “We have miles of white sand beaches, a rich reggae music culture and lots of delicious epicurean finds,” he said. At roughly 4,400 square-miles, the island is about the size of the state of Connecticut, and is a three-and-a-half hour nonstop flight from New York.
The Splurge: Rockhouse Hotel, in Negril, has the three-night “Fully Loaded” package for two people. It includes accommodations, a spa treatment a day per person for a total of three treatments for each guest, a welcome amenity of a bottle of Champagne and daily yoga classes. From $930 for two people. Book online through rockhouse.com.
The Steal: Sunscape Cove Montego Bay, in Montego Bay, is an all-inclusive resort: stays include accommodations, all meals, snacks and alcoholic beverages, an in-room minibar stocked with a variety of drinks, all water activities, access to the kids club and gratuities. Nightly rates from $397; some rooms can accommodate four people. Call 866-786-7227 for more details and to book.
via NYT > Travel http://ift.tt/2jSLmvw
September 26, 2017 at 07:33PM
Inside Airbus’ Super-Cool Airspace A320 Cabin, Coming Soon to JetBlue
At the 2016 Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg, Germany, Airbus unveiled its new Airspace cabin for the A330neo. That completely overhauled cabin design offers a high-tech experience through and through, from the slick mood lighting with etched overhead features to futuristic lavatories and much larger overhead bins.
Tuesday at the APEX Expo in Long Beach, we learned that Airspace will now be making its way to Airbus’ single-aisle A320 Family, launching first with JetBlue. I’ll dig into the improvements shortly, but first, take a tour of the new cabin in the video below:
— Zach Honig (@ZachHonig) September 26, 2017
We’ve heard repeatedly at APEX that when passengers evaluate cabin comfort, spaciousness tops the list of criteria — high ceilings, legroom and other amenities rank far above, say, seat width. Airspace accomplishes this by bringing a high-tech international-cabin feel to a narrow-body plane.
Another enhancement is the industry’s largest overhead bins — they can fit 60% more carry-on luggage than older models.
As you can see from the Airbus mock-up, bags fit best when stored vertically — and there’s room for four in each bin section.
A new window design with a larger bezel gives the impression of a larger viewing space, even with the smaller A320 windows (compared with those on Boeing’s 737s).
The seat width remains 18 inches, which is wider than you’ll find on many other narrow-body planes, including older models of the Boeing 737. Note that all cabin features aren’t final — the seats, for example, will likely change significantly by the time they arrive on a JetBlue plane.
The full Airspace cabin is expected to launch on new JetBlue A320s and A321s starting in 2020, though the expanded overhead bins should be available as soon as 2019. And should the carrier choose to launch transatlantic service, Airspace will certainly be a boon with narrow-body flyers.
via The Points Guy http://ift.tt/26yIAN2
September 26, 2017 at 07:15PM
There’s no crisis in paradise: Tracing Greece’s youth ‘hippie trail’
In the midst of one of the worst financial crises the European Union has ever seen, young Greeks are finding freedom on the storied island of Ikaria. Athens-based journalist Alex King visits this new ‘hippie’ haven in search of the young people refusing the hand they’ve been dealt.
Time takes on an altogether different meaning on the Greek island of Ikaria. You can be three hours late to meet a complete stranger and arrive in the dead of night—you’ll still be greeted like an old friend, presented with a bottle of ouzo, and held in rapturous conversation into the early hours.
Or, so it goes when we trek up into the mountains in search of Angelos Kalokairinos—a man who’s perhaps the greatest authority on the rich history of this rugged and fiercely independent island in the Aegean Sea. “[People] search for freedom and dream of a different world, somewhere things can be different,” says Angelos when we finally find him. “And here, they are different.”
The post There’s no crisis in paradise: Tracing Greece’s youth ‘hippie trail’ appeared first on Adventure.com.
via Adventure.com https://adventure.com
September 26, 2017 at 06:41PM
In “Star Trek: Discovery,” the Future Is a Simpler Time
Toward the end of the second episode of “Star Trek: Discovery,” two
women, Captain Philippa Georgiou (Michelle Yeoh) and First Officer
Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green), prepare to beam aboard a Klingon
warship. Standing in their bronze-hued, retro-styled transporter
room—“Discovery” takes place ten years before the original “Star
Trek”—they wear body armor over their sleek Starfleet uniforms. (The new
ones are jumpsuits with asymmetrical zips and metallic-foil racing
stripes.) Locking eyes and prepping their wicked-looking phasers, they
are so cool, tough, and charismatic that, for an instant, “Discovery”
seems like a version of “Star Trek” directed by Quentin
feminist revenge fantasy in space.
It’s one of the best moments in the new series, but it’s also an
outlier. For better and worse, “Discovery” is still “Star Trek”: it
takes place in the stodgiest and squarest of all sci-fi universes. When
the original “Star Trek” premièred, in 1966, “Bonanza” was the most
popular show on television; fifty-one years later, the franchise’s
newest iterations still evoke that time. The show’s alien races continue
to suggest America’s adversaries in the Second World War (in broad
strokes, the Klingons represent the belligerent Germans, the Romulans
the wily Japanese); the starship names are still prefixed with the
initialism “U.S.S.,” even though, in the future, there is no United
States (supposedly, it stands for “United Star Ship”); even the battles
are old-fashioned, executed slowly and at close range, as though the
crew were manually steering a naval destroyer armed with cannons.
In his 2009 feature-film reboot of “Star Trek,” J. J. Abrams gave the
franchise a gleaming new look and recaptured the original’s sexy vibe.
(Some of William Shatner’s costumes had plunging necklines.) That
high-energy tone carries over into “Discovery,” giving it the feeling of
heightened reality that the original show conjured with pervasive
overacting. The new show takes some stabs at topicality: the leader of
the Klingons, for example, is a Bannon-esque figure who, in response to
the Federation’s galactic cosmopolitanism, adopts the slogan “Remain
Klingon!” Deep down, though, the spirit of “Discovery” remains
essentially retro. In the “Trek” vision of the future, people control
technology, not the other way around. Revolutionary
inventions—artificial consciousness, molecular replicators,
holodecks—seem to have made people more normal, not less so. No one
seems to have rewritten his genome or upgraded his brain with electronic
parts; human nature remains essentially unchanged. The future is a
simpler time. (Certainly, it’s simpler than the fractious
nineteen-sixties.) Everyone is smart and wholesome, as though all of
humanity had made Eagle Scout, then graduated from Georgetown’s School
of Foreign Service, before accelerating to warp ten.
In “Discovery,” as in almost all of “Star Trek,” the central subject is
surprisingly abstract: the drama revolves around the relationship
between individuals and institutions. Like the United Nations or the
United States, the United Federation of Planets is always touting its
exalted principles—cosmopolitanism, tolerance, equality, peace, and so
on—while struggling to live up to them; it falls to the show’s
protagonists to keep humanity’s promises. To do so, they must often
violate the letter of the law without violating its spirit. In the
original series, Kirk was always flouting Starfleet protocol with a wink
or a grin; Spock made a habit of raising an eyebrow, then subverting his
Vulcan code of conduct. Michael Burnham, the new show’s main
protagonist, is also rebellious by nature. As the only human raised on
Vulcan, she is smarter and more rational than everyone else, but not so
Spock-like as to be uncool; she has the wit and charm to do what she
wants. Early on in “Discovery,” she commits a fateful act of
insubordination that will inform the rest of the season. She’s punished
for her crime, but quickly given a second chance, and soon returns to
being the heroine. Such leniency testifies to the most fantastic aspect
of “Star Trek”: its flexible social system, which is somehow both
ordered and free, the way we imagine Switzerland to be. Starfleet looks
like a military organization—nobody is lazy, stupid, disorganized, or
unkempt—but, at the same time, life within it is relaxed, chummy, and
fun. In “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” there is a bar on board,
tended by Whoopi Goldberg, but there are never rowdy patrons to throw in
the brig. Tightly organized and highly regulated, yet open to
individuality and forgiving of mistakes, the society of the future has
apparently learned to nurture athletic, courageous, educated, and
scientifically literate humanists—one-person melting pots like Captain
Jean-Luc Picard, who was simultaneously French and British, artistic and
militarized, disciplined and chill. Like him, Burnham stands out as a
twenty-second-century beau idéal—a futuristic Renaissance woman, the
perfectly balanced person that a perfect system might produce.
It’s not technology, in other words, that will save us—it’s personality.
“Star Trek” has always marvelled at the
feelings of ordinary
people, which persist even in a high-tech future; these glimpses of
individuality suggest that humanity has become comfortable in its own
skin. It has figured out how to remain human, in a good way, and this
has been the key to its success. (The franchise itself has come to
embody this idea: “Star Trek” is
proud of its
quirks and comfortable
with its history; in addition to its C.G.I. space battles, “Discovery”
features a hand-drawn title sequence.) Sonequa Martin-Green, who plays
Burnham, is not just the first African-American woman to have a leading
role in “Star Trek” but also the first lead actor in the franchise who
is as fun to watch as William Shatner. Like Shatner, she is more
expressive than the people around her. When she argues with her captain,
her voice cracks, her spine straightens, and her eyes fill with tears.
She is, as it were, extra human. She reassures us that, even in the
calibrated, rational future, there will be room for both weakness and
extravagance. Human nature will have a place among the stars.
via Everything http://ift.tt/2i2hEWb
September 26, 2017 at 06:18PM
‘Delta and Amex Have Lost Their Minds’: Fliers React to Airline’s New $250,000 MQD Spend Requirement
If you’re a frequent flyer with Delta eyeing top-tier Diamond Medallion status this year, you’re going to face a much, much tougher hurdle to hit that status before the year ends. The airline just increased the Medallion Qualifying Dollars (MQD) waiver spending requirement to an absolutely mind-boggling $250,000.
As it stands now, you’re able to earn the MQD waiver for Diamond status after spending $25,000 on an eligible Delta co-branded Amex card like the Gold Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express. The change is noted on Delta’s website and goes into effect as of January 1, 2018. The airline is keeping the Medallion Qualifying Miles (MQM) requirement the same at 125,000 miles.
While this astronomical figure is certainly shocking, Delta remains the only legacy carrier to offer a waiver to earn top-tier status. American offers a way to earn Elite Qualifying Dollars (EQDs) through its co-branded cards. If you spend $50,000 in a calendar year, you’ll earn 6,000 EQDs, half of what’s needed for Executive Platinum status. United doesn’t offer a way to earn a waiver through credit card spend for its top-tier Premier 1K status.
If you’re dedicated to earning Diamond status but don’t want to (or won’t) meet the new $250k MQD requirement, you can still reach the level if you fly the 125,000 miles required and spend a minimum of $15,000 on Delta flights.
Delta’s clearly trying to solidify its Diamond Medallion status as a super-exclusive level reserved for its highest-spending flyers. While in a way it’s still better than American or United, $250,000 is a lot to spend on the airline’s co-branded cards, and will certainly dissuade many flyers from pursuing that level of status, and will perhaps push some to competing airlines. Since the spend requirement for the Diamond status waiver is so astronomical, you’re better off using The Platinum Card from American Express, since it gives you 5 points per dollar spent on airfare booked directly through the airline or through Amex Travel as well as access to Delta SkyClubs when flying with the airline as well as the network of fantastic Centurion lounges. The card is currently offering a sign-up bonus of 60,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $5,000 in purchases within the first three months of account opening.
Reaction from The Points Guy readers has been swift and overwhelmingly negative. Readers have been emailing asking, for example, if “Amex and Delta have lost their minds.” Other readers have signaled that this will be the end of their relationship with Delta: “Unbelievable. Loyalty? Time for [a] status match” with another airline, a reader emailed.
Do you think Delta and Amex have lost their minds with this change?
via The Points Guy http://ift.tt/26yIAN2
September 26, 2017 at 06:15PM