(People Turning Into) Snakes on a Plane
May 31, 2019
“A good half of the art of living is resilience.”
“The desire for high status is never stronger than in situations where “ordinary” life fails to answer a median need for dignity and comfort.”
– Alain de Botton
(People Turning Into) Snakes on a Plane (or The Power of Context and the Environment):
When our parents took a trip on a commercial airline they had a much different experience than anyone flying today. Researchers analyzing the causes of increased misbehavior on flights provide several reasons for the phenomenon, which can be summed up simply as ‘the stresses of flying.’
Beginning with the boarding process, passengers are made acutely aware of the social hierarchy that is the seating class system. It’s all about ticket price, which determines whether you’re going to sit in a seat that is wide enough with enough leg room to be comfortable, or you’re going to be crammed into a smaller, thinner space with much tighter leg room. Tickets indicate status — first class, business class, economy class. Those in the cheap seats will have to compete for storage space in overhead bins.
A study published in 2016 confirmed the link between seating classification and misbehavior. The study’s entitled “Physical and Situational Inequality on Airplanes Predicts Air Rage.” The authors’ research showed the presence of first-class cabins and economy cabins was associated with more frequent unruly behavior. And boarding through the first-class cabin instead of the midsection of the plane increased those incidents. Then there’s all that alcohol consumed before and after boarding, not to mention fewer flight attendants than there used to be. Additional trailer: Snowpiercer.
No Peace in Israel’s Government & No Peace in the Middle East
- Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu failed to form a coalition government in the month after the Israeli elections, so the Knesset voted to dissolve itself and hold new elections on September 17.
- The next government may not take power until October, or even later, and there’s no guarantees Netanyahu’s Trump-friendly government will stay in power past the summer.
- This circumstance has dealt a blow to Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner’s as yet undisclosed Middle East peace plan. Kushner had arrived in Jerusalem Wednesday evening just hours before parliament voted to disband, and now that it has, the peace plan will likely remain undisclosed until the new elections are over. By then Donald Trump will be gearing up for his own 2020 campaign.
- The Palestinian leadership has already rejected Washington’s undisclosed plan, citing Trump’s pro-Israel bias. Further delays could push the peace plan into permanent obscurity. (Guardian)
Bolton Irunning To Conclusions
- US national security adviser John Bolton said he will present evidence to the UN security council as early as next week that he claims will show Iran was behind recent attacks on oil tankers and pipelines in the Gulf.
- Bolton has played a leading role in the US’s aggressive Iran policy, although President Trump appears to be somewhat less enthusiastic about a possible military confrontation.
- Bolton was a key architect of the US invasion of Iraq in 2003 and has a long history of calling for regime change in Iran. Many experts fear he is trying to drive the president into a war with Iran.
- The justification for the Iraq invasion was that US intelligence had produced evidence showing Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. That claim was not true. (Guardian, Intercept)
- Khamenei Dismisses Idea of Renegotiating Iran Nuclear Deal With U.S. (NYT, $)
The Country on Which the Sun is Setting on is Imploding
- President Trump will make a state visit to the United Kingdom next week, but first he weighed in on Britain’s political crisis by telling reporters of his friendship and respect for the country’s two highest profile Brexit supporters, Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage.
- “Nigel Farage is a friend of mine. Boris is a friend of mine,” Trump said as he left the White House Thursday to deliver a speech in Colorado. “Maybe it’s not my business to support people, but I have a lot of respect for both of those men.”
- Theresa May is stepping down as prime minister after failing to win support for her hard-fought deal to steer the country out of the EU. Both Johnson and Farage have said Britain should just withdraw without a deal. The country’s finance minister warned that a no-deal Brexit would severely disrupt the economy. (Reuters)
Additional World News
- A Fugitive In His Own Country, Venezuela’s Juan Guaidó Insists His Movement Is Strong (NPR)
- The world needs topsoil to grow 95% of its food – but it’s rapidly disappearing: Without efforts to rebuild soil health, we could lose our ability to grow enough nutritious food to feed the planet’s population (Guardian)
- Budapest boat disaster: captain arrested as search continues for 21 still missing: Captain of larger vessel that collided with tourist boat is detained after sinking in which seven have been confirmed dead (Guardian)
A Different Kind Of Job Application
The gig economy suits a lot of people who need, or just enjoy the flexibility and freedom the work offers. It’s not for everyone — it’s unpredictable, can be anxiety-laden, and the pay is not that great. Gig workers are usually independent contractors who don’t get benefits like health insurance or sick leave. Often families must piece together multiple jobs and gigs to make a living.
- Instacart is one of a slew of similar apps, like DoorDash, Postmates, and Shipt, that are paying tens of thousands of workers to deliver packages, food or groceries to strangers. Similar to those who drive for ride-share apps Uber and Lyft, delivery workers can choose when to work. But they don’t have to invite strangers into their cars.
- Women, mostly middle-aged, now make up more than half the contractors working for major food delivery apps. Hilary Gordon is a 47-year-old suburban mom in California who does grocery shopping and delivery for Instacart. As one of the app’s regulars she gets “early access” to a full week’s worth of shifts, which allows her to get hours predictable and long enough to make the work worth it to her. But to qualify, she has to commit to this “gig” full time. Part-time workers often cannot find enough hours.
- Like a lot of gig workers, this is not a career that Gordon pictured for herself. She has master’s degrees in both counseling and family therapy. But she was not licensed in California, and moving there meant a lot of additional classes and exams. And the salary she could ultimately earn barely covered child care costs. Gig work allows her to set her own schedule and still have family time.
- ‘A white-collar sweatshop’: Google Assistant contractors allege wage theft
A Classic Case Of He Said, He Tweet
Special Counsel Robert Mueller appeared before media Wednesday and made a brief statement about his 448 page report detailing the results of his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. It was his first public appearance and commentary in more than two years.
- He reiterated that his inquiry did not exonerate President Trump of obstruction of justice, but that Department of Justice policy prevented him from bringing an indictment against a sitting president.
- The Constitutional remedy for presidential misdeeds is impeachment by Congress. On Thursday Trump launched a fierce personal attack against Mueller, describing him as “totally conflicted,” saying: “Robert Mueller should never have been chosen because he wanted the FBI job and he didn’t get it and the next day he was picked as special counsel. Plus we had a business dispute.” The president then called the special counsel’s team of investigators “some of the worst human beings on Earth.” (BBC)
- Man Who Set Himself on Fire Near the White House Dies From Injuries (NYT, $)
A Different Kind Of Government Coverup
- The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that, under orders from the White House, and with the approval of the acting secretary of defense and the compliance of a chain of naval officers in the Seventh Fleet, the US Navy did its best to conceal the name of the warship ‘USS John S. McCain’ from President Trump’s sight when Trump recently visited Yokosuka Naval Base in Japan.
- The White House had wanted the ship moved, but it’s being repaired and could not be moved. So sailors hung a tarp over the ship’s name, removed all coverings that might indicate that the ship is the USS John S. McCain, and strategically positioned a barge to further help obscure the name. Finally, sailors were given the day off so that Trump wouldn’t see the ship’s name embroidered on their caps.
- The late senator McCain shares his name with his father and grandfather, all of whom served with distinction in war and in peace. Trump avoided military service by claiming he had bone spurs in his heel. McCain is universally considered to be a true American hero, which was enough to earn the thin-skinned Trump’s disdain. For one man, acceding to the White House’s order was a scandalous stain on the Navy’s honor. (WSJ, Atlantic)
- Five Lessons from History (Collaborative Fund)
- From the East, Why New York Can’t Have Nice Things It costs three times more to build a subway station here than in London or Paris. What if we could change that? to the West, Rat-infested pop-up bar to open in San Francisco (NY Magazine & SF Chronicle)
- Congress Must Act Now to Do What’s Right: Banning Kevin Durant From the NBA Finals (Slate)
- Ian Fleming Explains How to Write a Thriller: “You have to get the reader to turn over the page.” (Lithub)
- Speak, Memories: World War II, through children’s eyes (Bookforum)
- Apple’s latest defense of the App Store just shows how hard it is to compete with Apple: Apple launched a new website as a response to critics like Spotify (The Verge)
- Jeff Bezos’ Rules to Live By (Success)
- On the Trail of Tupelo Honey, Liquid Gold From the Swamps: Hurricanes, blights and encroaching development have cut into the harvest in Florida and Georgia, but a small cadre of beekeepers still fiercely pursues this lucrative prize. (NYT, $)
RECOMMENDED FOR YOU