WHAT WE’RE WATCHING
Pirates of the Caribbean — Political and economic crises in Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Haiti appear to be contributing to a surge of piracy in the Caribbean Sea, according to recent reports. In some cases, corrupt officials onshore, particularly in Venezuela, may be complicit.
A disaster-proof city — Is it possible to build a city that can withstand earthquakes, typhoons, floods, and other natural disasters? Developers in the Philippines are planning a project they call New Clark City about 60 miles north of Manila. They say it will be larger than Manhattan, able to house 1.2 million people, and pollution-free. Buildings will be constructed with a mixture of concrete and material from volcanic mudflows. “Good trick if you can do it,” as your Friday author’s grandfather used to say.
WHAT WE’RE LISTENING TO
Aretha – We live in a world of special effects, where a machine can make anything look and sound real. We rarely see genuine take-your-breath-away miracles anymore. But that shocking, original, and beautiful voice was real, and it will live on. R-E-S-P-E-C-T
WHAT WE’RE IGNORING
Pastafarians — The Dutch government has ruled that Pastafarianism is not a religion, denying a follower of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster the right to wear a colander on her head for passport and driver's license photos. She can still apply for asylum in New Zealand, which recognizes the church. Pastafarianism was founded in 2005 by an American man to protest the teaching of biblical creationism in science classes in US public schools.
AirBnB’s Great Wall sleepover contest — Airbnb recently announced an exciting new essay competition: Write 500 words on “overcoming cultural boundaries” and you can win the chance the sleep on a watchtower on the Great Wall of China. The prize includes a short hike, a gourmet meal, and “traditional Chinese entertainment.” Chinese social media users said “What??” Then, Chinese authorities said no. Some cultural boundaries last longer than others.
Verdi lady — A woman in Slovakia was arrested last week for playing a four-minute aria from Giuseppe Verdi’s “La Traviata” in her house with speakers on full blast. From morning until night. For 16 years. “I love Placido Domingo,” a neighbor told a reporter. “But not like this.”