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01 / 05
Return to Pre-pandemic Passport Processing Times

CNN | Space

Blue Origin Launches Six Tourists to the Edge of Space

“Blue Origin’s tourism rocket has launched passengers to the edge of space for the first time in nearly two years, ending a hiatus prompted by a failed uncrewed test flight…

The Federal Aviation Administration, which licenses commercial rocket launches and is charged with ensuring public safety, oversaw an investigation into the failure. The probe revealed that the engine nozzle failed because it experienced higher temperatures than what the company had anticipated.

To fix the issue, Blue Origin said it implemented ‘design changes to the combustion chamber’ — the area of the engine where fuel explosively mixes with oxidizer — and adjusted ‘operating parameters,’ or the data that the company uses to model safe flights.”

From CNN.

Axios | Labor & Employment

Average Worker Now Logs off at 4 p.m. On Fridays

“Quitting time has been shifting earlier throughout the week, and it’s especially early on Friday, according to an analysis of sign-off times from some 75,000 workers at 816 companies by the workplace analytics firm ActivTrak.

Friday sign-off times have moved up from around 5 p.m. at the start of 2021 to around 4 p.m. now. Monday-Thursday sign-offs have also shifted earlier, to around 5 p.m. on average.”

From Axios.

News.com.au | Tourism & Leisure

World’s Biggest Cruise Ship Icon of the Seas Sets Sail

“The world’s largest cruise ship, Icon of the Seas, has officially set sail on its maiden voyage, with passengers sharing what life is really like on board the 365 metre vessel.

Icon of the Seas left the Port of Miami, Florida, on Saturday for its first seven-night island-hopping trip that will feature a series of idyllic locations in the Caribbean.

The ship, which is five times larger than the Titanic and longer than the Eiffel Tower is tall, has a double occupancy capacity of 5610 guests – though it could accommodate up to 7600 if every possible bed was booked – and 2350 crew.”

From News.com.au.

Blog Post | Culture & Tolerance

New Years Resolutions of Yore: Vices That Became Virtues

Virtues we strive to embrace were once vices we swore to eschew.

A version of this article was originally published at Pessimists Archive on 12/31/2023.

In centuries past, things considered virtuous today; readingcyclingradio listening and chess playing were deemed unhealthy vices.

Amusingly this means some New Years resolutions set today are inversions of resolutions set in prior centuries. Where we may aspire to read and cycle more in 2023, people in 1923 may well have pledged to do them less.

As a new year beckons we explored secular sins that eventually became virtues:

Reading

As books became cheaper and more abundant, concerns about reading “too much‘’ became a heated public debate – while the religious worried about the bible competing for attention, others worried about “information overload.

Novel reading was thought to inspire women to seek risk and novelty, while inspiring violent criminal acts by children. Other complaints included the prevalence of people staring down at books on public transport:

Where today we feel guilt for playing on our smartphones in the bedroom – after we wake and before we sleep – reading books in bed was once treated as similarly compulsive, incompatible with a good night’s sleep and possibly damaging to your eyes (in a dimly lit room).

Bicycle Riding

Bicycle riding was a newly popular form of transportation in the late 19th century, thanks to the safety bicycle: cheaper and more practical iteration with inflatable tires for a smooth ride. As the bicycle rolled across the world, critics followed, calling it dangerous because it startled horses and unbecoming for women, who had to wear traditionally male attire to ride (bloomers”).

While some physicians argued cycling was healthy others linked it to insanity, deformities of the spine, face and even a cause for appendicitis. One insurance company even refused to insure avid bicycle riders, while one army recruitment office rejected applicants who were avid cyclists because it was assumed they had a weakened “bicycle heart.

Radio

The rise of the radio was a bigger deal than most realize – arguably bigger than television – which was seen as an evolution of radio. Radio’s growth in society was inevitably followed by handwringing and speculation about its possible downsides: dead birds, bad weather, poor grades and sleep deprivation were just some of the unfounded concerns.

Games (Crosswords)

Today word games are widely considered good for our brains, crosswords have survived the transition from print to digital and new word games continue the emerge – like Wordle – which was acquired by The New York Times.

Ironically The New York Times – now famous for its crossword – would refuse to publish the puzzles for many years, deeming them unworthy of a serious publication. Why? Because they were considered unintellectual and associated with distraction, earning bans by at least one professor and a judge.

Games (Chess)

In 1858 Paul Morphy became widely considered the world Chess champion, as a result national interest in the game boomed, leading to Scientific American weighing in on the matter opining: “Chess is a mere amusement of a very inferior character, which robs the mind of valuable time.”

Paul Morphy’s mental health would rapidly decline in the proceeding years, Chess was blamed by some for the deterioration, when other champions met similar fates there was speculation Chess might have a negative impact on players more generally.