The big losses we all know and dread. It’s the little ones that chip away at who we think we are. I read this week that the Kiwi shoe polish company is ceasing sales in Great Britain. It seems no one is shining their shoes any more. The cause is people working from home and wearing running shoes when they go outside. I, of course, took it to mean the decline of all standards of self-discipline, like making your bed.
1. A different news source. I’m no fan of Fox News. But I bookmarked it in 2016 when Donald Trump rode their coverage to the White House. This week I bookmarked the English version of Pravda, Russia’s newspaper of record, because Russians don’t have the choices we do about their news. It’s odd that the Fox and Pravda sites look similar. By the way, “Pravda” in English means “truth.”
2. Bank robberies way down. In fact they’re so down in Denmark that last year there were none at all. True, Denmark is a small and placid place. But bank robbers are subject to the same pressures we are. There’s less cash in the system, we do more banking online, and of course there are fewer tellers. In fact, finding a teller to hand a note to is like finding a baggage handler.
3. What is the second most popular sport in the world? Soccer is #1. Then It’s Cricket! And it’s growing fast, with new leagues, broadcast deals, and fans. The image of English villagers on their walking sticks breaking for tea on a Sunday afternoon is so last century.
4. How James Patterson writes 31 books at a time. Painters do this all the time, from Rembrandt to Kent Monkman. Authors rarely do, except perhaps James Patterson, the world’s best-selling author. Why does the 75-year-old produce books on an industrial scale? “My grandmother said, ‘Hungry dogs run faster,’... I've always been a hungry dog."
5. Annals of love and marriage. She was a nun; he, a monk. Then, it all changed with the touch of a sleeve. A lovely true tale of life today.
6. Four Seasons is now in the tent business. The world’s top brand in hotels and resorts just opened its 15-tent property beside 48 acres of forest in Mexico. Its first one opened in Thailand’s Golden Triangle.
7. Southwest Airlines’ problems are so bad that…The low-cost airline Americans once loved had a very bad Christmas, cancelling thousands of flights, and losing tens of thousands of pieces of luggage. Some, including its CEO, said the fault was in Southwest’s point-to-point flight system, rather than the spoke-and hub system used by most other airlines. Others said Southwest’s software was hopelessly out of date. How bad? Well, Southwest’s union views upgrading the airline’s software as more important than higher wages for its members.
8. How to stick to your reading goals. New Years used to be rife with resolutions. Then it shifted to sticking with your resolutions, mainly around diet and fitness. But here’s a way to stick to your reading goals. Lest you think reading more will merely make you happier, remember that it also strengthens pathways to your brain, lowers your blood pressure, heart rate and psychological distress.
9. What requires intuition, persuasion and subterfuge? Diplomacy. These are skills long thought impervious to artificial intelligence. Until now: but an AI algorithm from Meta can now beat many humans at the classic board game, Diplomacy. There may be new work for virtual dispute mediators and chatbot diplomacy.
10. Yo-Yo Ma Plays CAMH. In November cellist Yo-Yo Ma performed with the Toronto Symphony at Roy Thomson Hall. The next day, he went to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health to help start a music program for First Nations, Inuit, and Métis patients. But Yo-Yo isn’t just breaking the boundaries of who gets to see and play symphonic music. Last March he also created Antarctica: Life Emerging on World Oceans Day to celebrate Antarctica and secure the largest act of ocean protection in history. As they say, “If you live on this planet, you can thank Antarctica.”