Bernie Sanders Has A Plan To Back Up A Major Trump Campaign Promise

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt) said he will pursue new laws to ensure that President-elect Donald Trump’s lofty campaign trail promises to keep U.S. factory jobs in the country come to pass.  

“I will soon be introducing legislation to make sure that Donald Trump keeps his promise to prevent the outsourcing of American jobs,” Sanders said in a statement Saturday. “For the sake of American workers, this is a promise that cannot and must not be broken.”

In his announcement for the forthcoming Outsourcing Prevention Act, Sanders seized on Trump’s oft-repeated campaign pledge to stop Fortune 500 company United Technologies from shipping 2,100 jobs to Mexico.

In February, the company’s announcement of forthcoming layoffs went viral. A secretly made recording of the meeting shows workers for Carrier, United Technologies’ rooftop air conditioning division, jeering as they learn their operations in Indianapolis and Huntington, Indiana, are headed to Mexico.

Carrier’s unionized workers and earn between $15 to $26 an hour; workers in the company’s new plant in Monterrey, Mexico, would earn that much in a day, the New York Times reports

Trump invoked Carrier’s story throughout his campaign, both to show his commitment to the interests of working-class voters and to blast trade deals like NAFTA. He promised that, as president, he would convince United Technology bosses to remain in the U.S. or else slap the company with a 35 percent tax. 

Sanders on Saturday said that Trump should use defense contracts held by United Technologies which has security system and aerospace divisions as leverage. 

“I call on Mr. Trump to make it clear to the CEO of United Technologies that if his firm wants to receive another defense contract from the taxpayers of this country, it must not move these plants to Mexico,” Sanders said. 

In an outline of the Outsourcing Prevention Act, Sanders said the law would bar companies that ship jobs overseas from enjoying federal contracts, tax breaks, grants or loans; require clawbacks of federal perks; levy a tax that “would be equal to the amount of savings achieved by outsourcing jobs or 35 percent of its profits, whichever is higher” and prevent executives of companies that offshore jobs from drawing bonuses, stock options or “golden parachutes.” 

“We need to send a very loud and very clear message to corporate America: The era of outsourcing is over,” Sanders said in his statement. “Instead of offshoring jobs, the time has come for you to start bringing good-paying jobs back to the United States of America.”

Carrier’s move is set to start in mid-2017.

Two days before Sanders’ announcement, Trump said he was “making progress” with a deal to get Carrier to stay put. In response, Carrier said it had talked to Trump’s team but had “nothing to announce at this time.” 

Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/donald-trump-carrier-promise_us_583b4c00e4b09b605600e229

Media Amplifies Trump’s False Claim That ‘Millions’ Voted Illegally

NEW YORK On Sunday afternoon, Politico editorial director for digital Blake Hounshell rightly pointed out that President-elect Donald Trump’s claim that he actually won the popular vote, because “millions” of Americans had voted illegally, isn’t true.

“Trump claims, falsely, that millions voted illegally,” Hounshell tweeted, along with a Politico story on the matter.

The headline for the Politico story, however, lacked a key word: “falsely.”

Several news outlets ran Donald Trump’s claim in headlines without clarifying it wasn’t true.

This isn’t to pick on Politico, which was one of several news organizations to quickly publish stories Sunday based on Trump’s Twitter claim without clarifying in the headline that it was false. And Politico, unlike some others, later updated its headline.

Politico

But the rush of stories on the president-elect’s “millions” claims highlights the media’s tendency now on show for nearly 18 months  to immediately churn out articles based on Trump’s latest unsubstantiated claims or unwarranted attacks on Twitter.

Too often, news organizations amplify Trump’s assertions in headlines with some variation of “Trump tweets” or Trump claims” or “Trump says” whether or not those assertions are true. This seems to be the default in many newsrooms heading into Trump’s presidency, even after he proved to be a historically dishonest candidate known for frequently spouting falsehoods and pushing conspiracy theories.

The president-elect’s questioning of the election process is inherently newsworthy. But such a clearly false claim needs to be immediately put into context before being circulated online and on social media. News stories that don’t adequately address Trump’s assertion as being without merit run the risk of creating a “he said, she said” situation when the president-elect’s claim is conspiracy theory with no basis in fact. 

CBS News, too, uncritically repeated Trump’s claim. 

CBS News
CBS News ran Trump’s bogus claim without qualification.

The network drew criticism for not challenging Trump’s false claim in its widely circulated tweet, which originally linked to a story with a similar headline.

CBS News

The outlet later changed the headline to one that characterized the claim as baseless. 

CBS News

CNN published a breaking news tweet noting that “Trump alleges” he won he popular vote without clarifying that the “allegation” was unfounded.

The actual CNN article it linked to made clear in the headline that Trump’s claim was false.

CNN

The Washington Post published Trump’s false claim on Twitter as a headline, which, Gizmodo Media Group CEO Raju Narisetti noted, doesn’t make the headline remotely accurate.

The media is still coming to grips with how to handle a soon-to-be president who injects himself into the news cycle with controversy-generating tweets that have the potential to distract from serious, critical stories. 

“Like Pavlov’s dog, too many of us leap to object or correct the president-elect whenever he composes a deliberately provocative tweet,” Politico media critic Jack Shafer wrote on Nov. 19.

That morning, the media pounced on Trump’s Twitter tirade against the Broadway hit “Hamilton” after some in the audience booed Vice President-elect Mike Pence the night before. But just hours before the “Hamilton” performance, Trump had agreed to pay $25 million to settle fraud lawsuits brought by over 6,000 people who said they were swindled by his Trump University real estate seminars.

While the unprecedented settlement for a president-elect is presumably a bigger deal, the “Hamilton” spat got more attention that weekend on cable news. 

Trump’s latest Twitter outrage comes on the heels of the New York Times’ deep investigation into his business conflicts around the world as he prepares to take office. 

Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/donald-trump-false-claim-millions-popular-vote_us_583b5ed0e4b09b605600e42a

Donald Trump says ‘millions voted illegally’ for Clinton but offers no evidence

President-elect continues his attack on the effort to have a recount in three states while adviser calls his opponents crybabies and sore losers

Donald Trump has continued his criticism of Hillary Clintons support for election recounts in three states, claiming he won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally.

The president-elect, who offered no evidence for his claims, earlier called the recount effort a scam, while senior adviser Kellyanne Conway called Green party candidate Jill Stein and Clinton a bunch of crybabies and sore losers.

Marc Elias, general counsel for the Clinton campaign, wrote on Saturday that the campaign would support Steins effort in Wisconsin, where a recount will take place. Stein is also pushing for recounts in Pennsylvania and Michigan and has raised more than $6m online to fund such efforts.

The decision put the Clinton camp at odds with the Obama White House, which has expressed confidence in election results.

On Saturday, Trump attacked Stein, using Twitter to say: The Green Party scam to fill up their coffers by asking for impossible recounts is now being joined by the badly defeated [and] demoralized Dems.

On Sunday morning, the president-elect fired off a volley of tweets, starting: Hillary Clinton conceded the election when she called me just prior to the victory speech and after the results were in. Nothing will change.

The president-elect then drew attention to a debate remark by Clinton after Trump refused to commit to accepting the election result, quoting her as saying: That is horrifying. That is not the way our democracy works.

Been around for 240 years. Weve had free and fair elections. Weve accepted the outcomes when we may not have liked them, and that is what must be expected of anyone standing on a during a general election.

I, for one, am appalled that somebody that is the nominee of one of our two major parties would take that kind of position.

Trump was due back in New York on Sunday after spending Thanksgiving at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, where one report said he had been asking visitors who should be his secretary of state.

In the afternoon, around the time of his scheduled departure for Manhattan, he used Twitter to say: In addition to winning the electoral college in a landslide, I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally.

Donald
Donald Trumps tweet. Photograph: Screengrab

Trump did not elaborate about what he meant by people who voted illegally. During the campaign, he and surrogates complained about voter identity fraud among communities which usually lean Democratic, without presenting evidence and despite regular debunking of such claims by experts.

In subsequent tweets, he added: It would have been much easier for me to win the so-called popular vote than the electoral college in that I would only campaign in 3 or 4 states instead of the 15 states that I visited. I would have won even more easily and convincingly (but smaller states are forgotten)!

Trump, who trails Clinton by more than 2m ballots in the popular vote, drew criticism for his remarks.

Alex Padilla, Californias secretary of state, said they were unbecoming for a president-elect and seemed to show that Trump was rankled by losing the popular vote.

Alex Padilla (@AlexPadilla4CA)

pic.twitter.com/WfXISEBwzN

November 28, 2016

Steins recount effort, backed by a coalition of academics and activists, is based on fears that election machinery may have been hacked, although no evidence has yet been presented.

The White House has distanced itself from the effort. Referring to attempts to influence the election that have been officially blamed on Russia, it said in a statement the election results nonetheless accurately reflect the will of the American people.

In a statement emailed to the Guardian on Sunday, Stein said: The incredible outpouring of support for these recounts from over 100,000 small donors with an average of $45 each shows that Americans of all parties want a voting system they can trust.

In an election tarnished by allegations and irregularities, Americans of all political persuasions deserve to know the truth about what happened in these states.

Former Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders supported the legal right to request a recount but told CNNs State of the Union: I dont think Hillary Clinton, who got 2m more votes than Mr Trump, thinks that its going to transform the election.

Conway countered, telling CNN the decision to back Stein was pretty incredible.

I was asked, like, a thousand times, will Donald Trump accept the election results, she said, and now you have the Democrats and Jill Stein saying they will not accept the election results? [Clinton] congratulated him and she conceded to him on election night and now were going to drag this out? Its pretty incredible.

She added: The president-elect has been incredibly gracious and magnanimous to Hillary Clinton at a time when, for whatever reason, her folks are saying they will join any recount to try to somehow undo the 70-plus electoral votes that he beat her by.

On NBCs Meet the Press she went further, saying of Clinton and Stein: Their president, Barack Obama, is going to be in office eight more weeks .

They will have to decide if theyre going to interfere with his business and the peaceful transition of power to president-elect Donald Trump or [if] theyre going to be a bunch of cry babies and sore losers about an election they cant turn around.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/nov/27/donald-trump-scam-recount-jill-stein-hillary-clinton

Escaped from Al Qaeda, Jailed in Turkey: My Personal Midnight Express

Journalist Lindsey Snell, captured by a faction of al Qaeda in Syria, managed to escape. But the Turks accused her of being CIA and threw her in jail.”>

This is the first in a series of articles about the authors experiences in Turkish prisons and the people she met there, from a NASA scientist to a member of the so-called Islamic State.

One evening in early October, I heard the hatch in my cell door clang open. Snell! a guard yelled, Avukat!

Avukat? I asked, confused. It was after 6:00 p.m. They never let lawyers come to the prison this late. The guard sighed and motioned for me to come to the door. I shuffled down the hall in my prison slippers and spotted one of my lawyers sitting in a visitation room.

I sat down across from her. Beaming, she handed me a piece of paper. There was half a page written, but I couldnt read past the first lines. Greetings, Lindsey! You have been released!

This was the latest twist in what had become an odyssey through war, terror, confusion and cynicism.

Months earlier, while working as a journalist in Syria, Id been kidnapped by the local al-Qaeda affiliate. After escaping captivity and crossing the border to Turkey, I was arrested and accused of being a CIA agent by the Turkish government.

Earlier that week, the U.S. consulate and my lawyers told me that my case was moving more slowly than theyd expectedafter more than two months in prison, the Turkish government had yet to formally indict meso my release came as a total surprise.

I was returned to my cell to gather my things and bid farewell to the women who were my cellmates (three suspected al Qaeda members and an admitted ISIS member) and then led outside.

A portly man in civilian clothes awaited me. He introduced himself as a high-ranking official in the Turkish gendarmerie. He peppered me with questions as we waited for my paperwork to be processed. Why would you go to Syria? You must be very brave.

Or stupid, I said. He chuckled.

You said it, not me. He lit a cigarette and offered one to me. You know, I feel you were held to teach America a lesson, he said. You were a victim of the political environment. Sorry!

I forced a laugh and let him light my cigarette. He was referring to the turmoil caused by the events of July 15, when a faction within the Turkish Armed Forces revolted and attempted to overthrow President Recep Tayyip Erdoan.

How was it in there, anyway? he asked.

It was prison, I said.

Yeah, but it wasnt like Midnight Express, was it? Have you seen that movie?

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I hadnt seen the movie, but I understood the reference. Any mention of Turkish prison will elicit comparisons to the iconic 70s film about an American citizen rotting in one. Im sure as hell not going to watch it now.

***

Briefly this is the background to my personal Midnight Express:

It was in July that I made the fateful decision to make a journalistic trip to opposition-held Syria. I planned to spend a week filming stories with a trusted fixer, a local translator/facilitator employed by foreign journalists, especially in conflict areas. Id made six prior trips to the war-torn country and published more than 30 stories with seven different outlets.

Opposition-held Syria is the most dangerous place in the world for journalists. Its also the most dangerous place in the world for civilians. Id gone to great lengths to cover the conflict. The outlet I worked for in 2014 and 2015 didnt want to be liable for me in Syria, so I took vacation time to make trips there. They were certainly amenable to purchasing my footage when I returned, though.

Before coming to Syria, my fixer got permission from Jabhat Fateh al-Sham (the group formerly known as Jabhat al-Nusra, al Qaedas Syrian affiliate) for me to film in the Aleppo and Idlib countrysides. In spite of this, a few days into my trip, JFS arrested my fixer. And then, they came to arrest me.

After being held for two weeks in three different locations in the Idlib countryside, I was able to get my hands on a phone. I engineered a plan to escape using contacts on the ground in Syria. At the same time, I communicated with my husband in New York, who was working with the FBI to attempt to help me. The U.S. government informed the Turkish government of my situation and they were coordinating with the FBI and U.S. Special Forces.

I ultimately got away with the help of a Syrian man from Ahrar al-Sham, an Islamist faction of the opposition. He hid me in his home for two days, and while I hid, I was in constant communication with my husband and the FBI.

I learned that the American government sent two helicopters to an area near Gaziantep, Turkey to prepare for a possible extraction attempt. They asked me to ask the man harboring me to help find a place to land. My hiding place was still very much in JFS territory, and wed heard they were conducting a large-scale search for me. It didnt seem safe.

When the man hiding me caught wind of their plan, he rose, grabbed his AK-47, and walked outside. I will wait America, he said, grinning. He would shoot at them if they came.

I relayed this to the FBI. You need to be realistic. This man hates America. He isnt going to help me find a place for a fucking American helicopter to land, as doing so would be a probable death sentence for him and his wife. And wandering into the Idlib countryside alone, with tons of JFS out looking for me, is not a feasible option. Just let me get myself to the border.

An agent briefly took over my husbands WhatsApp to speak to me directly. I could get myself to the border, but I really needed to use their assistance to cross to Turkey, she said. She assured me that American officials on the Turkish border received permission from Turkey for me to cross, and that State Department personnel were with the Turks to ensure I wouldnt be arrested. She put me in touch with a man I presume was from U.S. Special Forces who was waiting for me in Turkey, and we discussed where I would cross out.

A smuggler took me to an area near the border. I set out alone on foot to the frontier at the point the Americans specified. After Id been standing in a clearing on the Syrian side of the Syrian/Turkish border for more than an hour, a Turkish soldier stuck his head through a thick cluster of brush and peered at me. Tyler? he asked. Is that you?

Tyler is my middle name.

Close enough, I said.

Come with me, Tyler. Your friends are waiting for you on the other side.

We walked quickly across the border into Turkey. The soldier pointed at two men in jeans standing next to an SUV. Your American friends, he said. I assumed they were U.S. Special Forces. After introductory pleasantries, the men asked me to sit in the back of their SUV. The moment I did, a Turkish officer rushed over.

She must ride in our truck, he told the Americans. I got out of the SUV and my heart began to pound.

Theyre just processing you, one of the Americans called to me.

Really? Because it seems like Im being arrested, I said.

Youre not, he replied. And well be with you the whole time.

The Turks were, in fact, arresting me. And that was the last I saw of the U.S. Special Forces.

***

I climbed onto the back of the truck and sat on a bench next to a soldier. The truck drove to a base near the border, and I was taken into an office to wait. After about an hour, two English-speaking Turkish officials entered.

They asked me a bit about my time in Syria, but seemed much more interested in what America had done in an effort to help me.

We know the Americans brought helicopters for you, one of them said with a glare. I nodded. He held the glare for several awkward seconds and then tapped his desk lightly with his fist. Ok, no problem, he said. We will deport you to America soon. First, the Jandarma will question you, just like we did. But there is no problem.

I was driven to a compound nearby and told to sit on a bench outside among falling autumn leaves. On the other side of the property there were tents, bathrooms, and dozens of refugees. At one point during my wait, two officers brought a group of male refugees to the area in front of my bench. Git! one bellowed. Go! In an instant, the refugees scrambled to pick the fallen leaves off of the grass with their bare hands.

After several hours of waiting, a bald man in a suit approached me, grinning. He held his iPhone in front of my face and showed me a scanned document from the U.S. government. I skimmed it and saw it was a formal request from America to Turkey to allow me to cross the border.

You? he asked. I nodded. Come.

I followed him to a table in the middle of the grass. Several other officers sat around it, drinking tea, smoking, and staring at me.

None spoke English. The bald man made a couple stabs at forming a sentence, then dug in his pockets for a business card and handed it to me. It was the card of a woman from the American consulate. He called her and handed his phone to me.

Hello, Lindsey, the woman said. Are you ok?

Hello, I replied. Whats happening here? Ive been waiting for hours, and no one is telling me anything.

Im not sure, she said, but I think they will take you to the immigration center to process your deportation. Thats usually how this goes.

Typically, American journalists caught crossing illegally to Turkey are almost immediately deported. I had no reason to believe my case would be any different, especially considering the ordeal Id just survived in Syria.

But in the weeks following the July 15, the widely held belief in Turkey was that America was behind the coup attempt. After all, Fethullah Glen, the cleric suspected of leading the factions of Turkish Armed Forces that launched the uprising, lived in Pennsylvania.

Id been a prisoner of al Qaeda as this narrative unfolded in the press, so I didnt have a clear sense of just how much animosity the Turkish government harbored towards America. Now I was learning quickly.

I was ushered into the back of a minivan with armed soldiers on either side of me. We drove to a municipal building in Antakya and were taken into the office of a uniformed military official. I asked his name and rank and he shook his head at me. Not important, he said. A translator arrived shortly after.

Lindsey, the translator began, First, he wants to know why you are a Muslim? You are American. Your parents are not Muslim, are they?

No, they arent. My husband is an Afghan living in New York City. I converted to Islam when I married him in Kabul a year and a half ago.

The official nodded and gave the translator his next question. He does not understand how you could escape from al Qaeda. It must have been very difficult. Very dangerous. Why have other journalists not escaped them?

I threw my hands up. Sorry, I said. Ive explained to the other officials how I escaped. Should I have stayed with al Qaeda? I had an opportunity to run away. I took it.

The official moved on to his final question. Why America would send these helicopters for you? If you were really just a journalist, they would not do these things for you. I denied this, but my protests fell on deaf ears.

I am, in fact, just a journalist. The American government would have done what they did for me for any American captive in Syria. I do not now, nor have I ever had, any affiliation with an intelligence agency.

When the officer was finished questioning me, he took us to another municipal building to speak with the public prosecutor. He asked me the same questions Id already answered several times, and then opened Google on his phone.

If I type in your name, will it show that you are a journalist? he asked. After hed typed in Lindsey Snell, Lindsey Snell journalist was the top suggested search phrase. (As an aside, one of the top search suggestions now is Lindsey Snell CIA, which is a crowning irony.) The prosecutor shrugged and set his phone down. It still does not explain why America did so much for you. You will meet the judge soon.

Before I was taken to the judge, a female guard arrived and took me into a bathroom to strip search me. Guards came to the prosecutors office and went through my belongings. They started to catalog my camera equipment, hard drives, and memory cardsmaterials Id been absolutely elated to recover and smuggle out of Syriapiece by piece.

Eventually, I was taken downstairs to the court. A judge sat behind a desk, and a stenographer sat in front of him. A middle-aged man came in the room and stood next to me. He is your lawyer, the translator explained.

No, he isnt my lawyer, I said. I want to hire my own lawyerand I want to speak to my consulate.

The translator shrugged. He is your lawyer today. And you cant speak with your government now.

The judge spoke with one of the officers, not bothering to address me. When he was finished, he told the translator to give me a message. The judge says he understands your situation. He is recommending that you be taken to prison. Your charge is crossing the border illegally into a forbidden military zone. I was dumbfounded.

But the Turkish government made an agreement with America to let me cross safely! They told me to cross where I did! The translator shrugged again, and then relayed my message to the judge. The judge responded to him and abruptly left the courtroom. The translator turned to me.

The judge said to tell you that really, this is all your governments fault. The courtroom door swung open, and a guard approached me with a set of handcuffs.

Tomorrow: In For a Dollar

Read more: http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/11/25/escaped-from-al-qaeda-jailed-in-turkey-my-personal-midnight-express.html

The Airport of the Future Will Use Your Face as Your Passport

Spending big bucks on infrastructure wont end our travel misery, but a new passport may: friction-free travel from check-in to airplane.”>

You wouldnt guess it if you are suffering long security lines and indifferent service at Americas airports this holiday season, but all this could soon be a thing of the past. New smart technology in which your face becomes your passport could transform the airport experience.

And everybody agrees that this needs to happen. If there is one song both political parties are singing from the same sheet it is that we need to renew our transport infrastructure before it finally collapses from neglect.

And airports appear to be high on the list.

Listen to President-elect Donald Trump and Vice President Joe Biden. They have both called New Yorks LaGuardia airport Third World in its wretched standards. Thats probably an insult to a lot of the Third World. As LaGuardia undergoes a $4 billion makeover its even more of a nightmare for passengers than it was before.

Billionaires and politicians can, of course, make invidious comparisons like this because they get to see how these things are done in other parts of the world. Bear in mind, too, that Trump and Biden are both accustomed to VIP fast-tracking. But passengers who only fly domestically in the U.S. dont have any means of knowing if the miseries they now accept as routinelong lines, overcrowded lounges, chaos when boardingare the same around the world.

Mostly, they are not.

And other countries are leaping way ahead by investing billions of dollars in a new generation of airports of a quality that Americans can only dream of:

In Dubai, United Arab Emirates, to be completed in 2020, a new airport with five runways and four terminals, capable of handling 160 million passengers a year. (Right now the worlds busiest airport is Atlantas Hartsfield-Jackson, serving 101 million passengers a year.)

In Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, the worlds largest terminal dedicated solely to budget airlines, able to handle 45 million passengers a year.

In Incheon, South Korea, a new terminal opening for the 2018 Winter Olympics that by 2025 will be handling 46 million passengers through 222 check-in counters.

But lets get real: Utopian projects on this scale will never be possible at any major U.S. airport because of constraints imposed by the availability of land and the environmental impact on urban areas.

Most of the airline terminals in the U.S. predate the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Their architecture didnt anticipate the new lines of defense that would be needed for passenger and baggage screening. Passenger numbers have grown simultaneously with the need to stuff terminals with the equipment to carry out much tighter security checks, as well as being exacerbated by recent cutbacks in the number of screeners. This squeeze has created the choke points that caused such huge lines and suffering this summer.

For America, improving the airports we already have is more realisticand more urgentthan pursuing fantasies of new mega-airports or just expanding a system that is broken. Instead, infrastructure investment should be directed at embracing a step change in technology that could transform the way our airports handle passengers and baggage, easing much of the problem.

Welcome to The Smart Airport. This is the aviation industrys name for what is promised to be a seamless path from check-in to the gate.

A foretaste is already available in, of all places, the small Caribbean island of Aruba. The airport there is the testing ground for a technology called Happy Flow.

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Passengers flying from Aruba on KLM Royal Dutch Airlines to Schipol in the Netherlands do, indeed, find themselves flowing happily into the future. Once they check-in they never have to join a line to show an ID, never have to produce a passport or boarding card. Instead, they are tracked at points through the terminal all the way to their seat on the airplane using face-recognition cameras.

Happy Flow pioneers a biometric technology that the International Air Transport Association, IATA, wants to be available worldwide for 80 percent of passengers by 2020. The idea is to bring the kind of self-service already common in retailing and banking to the airportgetting passengers and baggage to the airplane with flawless efficiency.

However, meeting that deadline could be something of a reach. Retailing and banking dont usually involve full body security scans or bureaucracies on the scale of the Department of Homeland Security and the Transportation Safety Agency that can make the adoption of any new technology a tortuously slow process.

The IATA loves the Smart Airport concept because they believe it will save the airline industry more than $2 billion a year in costs. That, of course, means that like so many other waves of technical change it will remove people from the job of delivering services. And it does that under the euphemism of self-service by a skill-transferexpecting us, the passengers, to be tech savvy.

As demonstrated in Aruba, facial recognition is the key to how this works. Passengers arrive with their smartphone already programmed with their personal data and profile, and the phone would not even need to be shown. Their identity is then confirmed by an infrared facial recognition camera and they would pass through security in the same way as in the present TSA PreCheck program. This is a mature technology. Current facial recognition cameras have a failure rate of less than 1 in 100,000 scans.

Moreover, proponents argue that biometric identification carries none of the stigma of profiling carried out on the spot by security staffthe TSA for exampleaccording to stereotypes.

But there is a detail that sounds a little spooky and could raise concerns about intimate personal privacy. Biometric technology sensors used for face scanning can also monitor a passengers healthfor example, by detecting a high temperature that could result in the passenger being quarantined because of an infection.

Once beyond the security checks there will be what is called digital wayfindingin an unfamiliar airport, perhaps one with signage in a foreign language, a smartphone will be able to show passengers where they are in the terminal at all times and direct them to the right gate.

As well as removing humans from the responsibility of personal-security screening the Smart Airport will field service robots and virtual assistants. Airline staff will be replaced by robot information providers able to advise on how to rebook a flight if it is canceled or give directions to a business lounge. In those lounges the virtual assistants will take care of personal needs like booking hotels and car rentals.

Another curse of todays airports will be eliminated. How many times have you waited on an airplane at the gate while bags have had to be removed from the hold because passengers who have checked-in have for some unaccountable reason failed to make it to the gate? Terminals are now being equipped with networks of beacons using near-field communications that can track a smartphone or digital boarding pass so airlines will be able to know exactly where a lingering passenger is at all times.

How soon can all this happen?

For the moment the Smart Airport remains a panacea. The technology is baked but putting it to use is another story. Americas airports are bedeviled by the confusion of interests involved in running them: national security agencies; their owners (a mix of municipal authorities and commercial investors); the airlines and federal authorities who regulate airline practices and provide air traffic controllers. When it comes to change, these interests are rarely on the same page.

The result is what anybody sees as they fly around the countryhighly variable standards of service, from the abysmal to the not-so-bad. At its worst you get what happened at JFK in August when a false alarm that a shooter was loose threw the whole airport into hours of panic and revealed that nobody was actually in charge.

In the annual world ranking of the airport experience by SkyTrax the first American airport to appear in the Top 100 is Denver, at 28th. Denver has the advantage of being the only new hub to have opened in the U.S. in decades and when it did, in 1995, it was only 16 months late, something of an achievement because new airports are frequently honeypots of corruption and rarely demonstrations of managerial competence. (Berlins Brandenburg Airport, supposed to open in 2011, and even now nowhere near being fit for purpose, is the most egregious example ever.)

Air traffic worldwide is projected to double during the next 15 years and to reach 10 billion passengers a year by 2030. Thats going to require a lot more airports, and a lot better understanding of what makes an airport work as it should.

Theres a reason why Singapores Changi is consistently the worlds top airport. It is not simply architecturally superb or brilliantly planned. Its the peoplethe human touch. The attitude of the airport staff at every level reflects a devotion to the service ethic that is rarely evident to passengers passing through our own airports.

And that asset is the product of an ingrained cultural attitude. Smart Airport or not, no amount of technologyor infrastructure investmentcan deliver the same standard of service on its own.

Read more: http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/11/26/the-airport-of-the-future-will-use-your-face-as-your-passport.html

Great Reviews of Some Sketchy Hotels

The mysterious Reginald Edward Morse is a hotel reviewer in Rick Moodys latest novel. Here Morse rates the hotels where Moody stayed on his book tour.”>

Reginald Edward Morse is the protagonist and narrator of Hotels of North America, Rick Moodys latest novel. A reviewer for RateYourLodgings.com, he is also missing in action, when the book begins. All we have of himand its the bulk of the bookare his reviews, his asides, his ruminations about life. But when Moody went on tour to promote the novel, somehow Morse re-emerged! The entries below, as written by Morse and conveyed to us by Moody, are reviews of all the hotels where Moody stayed on his book tour. Hotels of North America, by the way, is now out in paperback.

Tara Reid, not known for her acting, generally speaking, finds a new purpose in Sharknado. The gauzy close-ups and Im-so-bored line readings lend her a paradoxical grace under pressure, an elder stateswoman gravitas. Its hard to believe that anyone had to act in this film, and yet phoning in the performance somehow makes them all seem that much more wise and knowing, like true professionals. Let us not forego to mention, e.g., John Heard, who gets killed off quickly but who really goes all-in with the scenery chewing in his brief pre-mortem beer-guzzling appearance.

Brief plot summary graph: They have to kill the sharks with swords and projectiles, when they fall out of the sky, and then someone flies a plane into the sharknado and detonates some kind of bomb that unfunnels the sharknado, and then there are shark innards everywhere, etc.

The only thing that could destroy the Sharknado franchise is the very thing that came to pass, namely that Sharknado became successful. As soon as the Sharknado creators realized that they had shark week gold on their hands, they seemed to have attempted to improve their work, getting heavily ironic in the process, adding tongue-in-cheek guest appearances (the Subway pitch guy, Jared Foegle, not yet a convicted pedophile, turns up in Sharknado 2), all of it leading in the direction of a sort of hipster vaudeville event.

This disgusts me. When you are in a Marriott in Miami, trying to avoid a tornado of undertakers, an undernado, the last thing you want to watch is some campy, ironic Sharknado, a Sharknado that jumps the shark. You want the dramatic underperformance of American popular culture. You want the desperation. You want the has-beens, the poor special effects, you want the total absence of believable character motivation, you want the hero, covered with shark intestines, hugging his estranged wife at the films close. You want to believe in the myth, namely the myth that someone actually pitched a studio on this project, and the film studio said yes! You want to believe in the 25-year-old learning disabled MDMA-addict who took that meeting and who thought Sharknado was a good idea! You want to imagine him going out to hear Skrillex play that night, and in the middle of some breakbeat passage during the Skrillex show, this 25-year-old studio executive who still chronically wets his bed was actually seeing a sharknado and texting the relevant agents right there, from the Skrillex show, to say that he knew Sharknado was going to be really big. You want to believe in the toy manufacturers getting into Sharknado, getting their shark week gear ready. You want to believe in the cable networks, once devoted to fact-based media, just giving up on all of it, and going for Sharknado instead, and the twenty-four-hour broadcast day of dramatic recreations that fall on either side of Sharknado throughout shark week. Thats the myth you want to believe in. The myth of total American shamelessness. You want to believe in American marketing, American ingenuity, American know-how. You want to know that when people are holed up in a Marriott in Miami, having taken something north of the correct dosage level of Seroquel, so that they can sit back, relax, and engorge (or disgorge) themselves on Sharknado, such that they will have an indisputable American entertainment experience, one that will stun them into a vegetative state so significant that they will fail to turn up for their panel discussion, and will slink off to the airport having done nothing that they were meant to do in order to be remunerated, still unconsciously wearing a lanyard that says: Reginald Edward Morse, Independent Contractor.

Id tell you more about Sharknado 2 or Sharknado 3, but I cant remember having seen them.

Shaped like an architectural replica of the salt cellar design well-known to the American diner, and, therefore, circular, so that the rooms are, kinda, pie slices. I am told that it was first a Holiday Inn. The restoration/rehabilitation that would have been required to make the full-scale transformation from Holiday Inn to four-star glammed up LA power hotel apparently stalled before completion. Did I say that its right on the 405? As they say in LA: the 405! The 405 is right outside the Hotel Angeleno, and the near-constant clog on that infarction-to-be is your never-ending experimental music drone in the Hotel Angeleno. My room was brown. The wifi never worked, despite my complaining. There were, it is true, an abundance of attractive young Angelenos coming in and out of the very, very slow elevators, bound for some bar or club secreted away inside whose musical emanations I could just make out in my own room. Two of these attractive Angelenos, in the elevator with yours truly, had an attenuated exchange about merlot and how much they like merlot. Throughout, I wanted to be anywhere else. On the plus side: the Hotel Angeleno is not far from the airport at all, and everyone I talked to on the staff was gentle and kind. Elapsed time in residence, thirteen hours.

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There wasnt enough furniture in the room, it was decorated in a succession of beiges, the shower curtain was unspeakable with mildew, they employ those pumps of shower gel and shampoo in the shower, the drain in the sink didnt drain, the wallpaper in the bathroom was just getting ready for its big peel-off, the shower head was bad, the curtains were excessive (verging on something we might refer to as bunting) the hallways had the slightly spooky 19th or early 20th century vibe ambience you associate with salesmen of fraudulent medical syrups, the keep-the-riff-raff off the upper floors key check in the elevator didnt work and therefore only prevented the hoi polloi from getting to its upper floors, and the main floor at the time of check-in was heavily peopled with roughhewn Portland hipsters doing some kind of meet and greet. You kind of wanted to say: Take it outside to the food trucks, guys! You wont bother anyone. The Benson is named in honor of an important local citizen who tried to encourage the regional lumberjacks to drink less by installing water fountains in downtown Portland, or that is how the situation was recounted for me. But the piece de la resistance at the Benson, in my underdecorated room, was the situation with the toilet paper. The whole toilet-paper-roll-origami trend has just gone too far. For each new customer, they enfold a little origami hospital corner fold on the uppermost square as if to indicate the specialness of arrival, as no one else has ever required that particular roll of toilet paper. Once the innovation was introduced, it could not be stopped, it was nationwide; on and on the hotels went, with their hospital corner enfoldments. In my travels, I have seen that a surfeit of generous new origami styles have taken hold in the bathroom, or are beginning to take hold as I write these lines, and The Benson, I must note, has taken the whole trend to an entirely new level. They are really innovating. At the Benson, the person charged with turning over the room tore off a sheet, and then virtuosod this sundered piece into a sort of a farfalle shape, a bowtie pasta, and then re-affixed it to the roll. A highly ornamental punctuation mark. I wonder how much of an imposition this whole tendency is for the chambermaids who work at The Benson and who are therefore charged with making this origami bowtie in each and every Benson room. And: was a Japanese artist or a student thereof employed to teach all the chambermaids? Is such a person on hand for the new chambermaids in what is surely a high-turnover profession? Is the toilet tissue origami a commentary on the importance of Japanese culture, and Japanese-American culture, in Portland as a whole? (They do have a really great Japanese garden in the park here.) Or was it simply an amenity designed to direct your attention away from the other slightly dank and sinister early 20th century joylessness of The Benson as a whole? I spent less then 12 hours there, really more like 9 hours, and I was asleep for most of these hours. If the origami was to get my attention, it most certainly did. But so did the rest of the joint.

I had to play the hotel reviewer card yesterday morning, upon arriving. It went like this, I got up at 4 a.m. in Seattle, fresh from a conference on motivational speaking in educational settings, wrung out, suffused with feelings of failureas though failure were some slightly garish perfume, like, e.g., Old Spice, that I had once used but was unable to rinse offin order to high tail it, down to the San Francisco Bay Area, home to Americas vaunted high tech business sector, in order to consult on workplace design for a start-up that allows people to use their free time as independent contractors-for-hire to pizza delivery business. If the consulting went badly, I could always just deliver some pizza. Anyway, upon arriving at the Hotel Nikko, promptly at 9 a.m., I found, alas, that the Hotel Nikko was unprepared for me and my personal belongings. That is, they were not ready for me to check in. They were not ready for me, Reginald Edward Morse, to check in to their fine Japanese-themed establishment. Im going to say, right up front here, that the receptionist yesterday was named Manuel, and he was in his forties, and exceedingly polite, and had facial hair that was tasteful, not one of those Moonshiner beards that are so popular in this day and age. Nevertheless, I viewed Manuel as my adversary! Manuel did not know that he needed to give me this room, and he didnt not know that he was going to give me this room, because I am an internationally recognized hotel reviewer on this the internationally recognized RateYourLodging.com web site. (Which has an IPO coming up soon! And offices in the nearby San Bruno area!) At any rate, Manuel, though I had called from Seattle to insure that I might be granted early check in, made clear that there was no real early check-in at 9 a.m., not at all, and that he would be happy to check my bags, and take my phone number so that he could contact me as soon as a room became available, probably at about 2:59 p.m.. It was at this point that I said to Manuel: Look, make of this what you will, Manuel. But I am, in fact, an internationally recognized hotel reviewer, and I am going to be reviewing this hotel later, and should there be a room available to me now it is a foregone conclusion that this customer service event will register in any review that I write. (And you can see, because you are reading these lines, that I was telling the truth.) Manuel looked thoughtful for a moment, and then he said, Mr. Morse, sir, we treat all of our guests equally in the matter of courtesy here at the Hotel Nikko, and I will be happy to check your baggage for you. This did not represent a new rhetorical turn in our colloquy, however, and therefore I needed some new way to bring Manuel to the light. I needed to close the deal. Like the guys in those how to pick up women books who need just one more way to speak to the ladies. However, Manuel, in a graceful slow motion, seemed to be rounding the corner just as I was thinking these thoughts, just as I was giving into the hard, unforgiving mattress of despair, because after an interval of silence, Manuel said: How would you like a premium suite? To which I said, Manuel, what is the price differential, and can I stick it on the credit card of a Pizza Delivery start up, who are underwriting my travel today? To which Manuel replied: You can definitely stick it on the card, and were talking about a difference of $40, Mr. Morse. I said: Manuel sign me up! Thinking to myself, that is, that I would have to somehow finesse it with the pizza delivery people. But that would come later! The key was produced, the deal was closed, and I had access to the Imperial Club, at least I think that was the name, the Imperial Club, a fancy floor at the top of the Hotel Nikko with its own breakfast lounge, and breathtaking views of the greater San Francisco Bay, from which I watched both sunset and dawn, between which I went to go talk about pizza delivery, and even to make a couple of delivery calls myself, including one in which, upon delivering the pizza, I spoke of the awesome power of music to speak in a language of the heart that no word will suffice to do! Two pies, one with extra cheese! Galileo! Galileo! The breakfast lounge is incredible, with a really nice guy working there who gets to spend every morning watching boats heading to the docks in Oakland, my room is exceedingly quiet, and the view is to die for, and the Christmas lights are already flickering on the Macys below me. If only I could rinse off the Old Spice!

With the designed hotels, the question to ask is whether the design holds up under scrutiny. Does the fact that the knob on the drawer that is not an actual drawer but just a drawer facsimile begin to irritate you after a while? Here at the Hotel 1000, for example, which is very much a designed hotel, how are you going to feel about the gigantic bathtub that you can ogle through a window by the bed (unless you lower the electric privacy screen) when you actually go to use it, assuming you are going to use it at all? Back in the immemorial days when I was up to no good in hotels, I would have assumed there was some important prurient use for this bathtub simply because it was so spectacularly designed. But now in my dotage I sort of want to feel that the bathtub has surplus value, is not simply glamorous in the style sense, in the way that Priscilla, the receptionist last night was glamorous with her excellent Russian accent, Now, Mr. Morse, have you stayed with us before? No? Then I just have two informations for you, Mr. Morse, and one of these concerns the Wifi, which is a complimentary Wifi, and the second of these informations concerns the wine-tasting, which we are having in the lobby this evening, and to which you are most welcome. Imagine my surprise then (and please see the accompanying video) when I looked around in the bathroom for the water source, through which the incredibly large bathtub might be filled, mystified as to the way this would happen (imagining poor, reluctant staffers who might have to carry in pitchers of water for my bath), until I seized the unmarked plumbing on the side wall by the edge of the bathtub, cranked it all the way to the right, and found that the water that filled the tub came out of the ceiling! Thats right, the water in the bathtub in room #513 at the Hotel 1000 came out of the ceiling! Doesnt that basically guarantee plumbing hazards in the ceiling of this room to come at some future date? Having the tub fill from the ceiling is incredibly catchy, its a wow factory as far as design goes, but what are the real world ramifications of this tub and its design? For example, you cannot effectively do anything in the tub while its filling, because theres a de facto waterfall falling into the tub while its filling, right in the middle. A waterfall with a significant spill radius. Mostly you just want to be free and clear of the waterfall while its filling, especially if its not yet warm, which mine assuredly was not for easily ten or fifteen minutes. I had to fill the tub by half, and then empty it and start over before there was enough hot water to support an actual bath. Next we need to point out that the Hotel 1000 favors those Moulton Brown soap dispensers, which are affixed to the wall in the shower and by the sink basin, but which are nowhere near the tub so that, drum roll please, it is in fact impossible to bathe in the gigantic, exposed, waterfall-inflected tub, unless you provide your own (removable) soap. And: if you want to let some of the water out and refill a bit because the tub has cooled some? Forget about it. The stainless steel fixture that controls the temperature and severity of the fill is on the wall beyond the tub and you cannot reach it from the tub, so you will have to get out of the tub to manipulate this fixture. Which means? You guessed it, the tub looks great, but no engineer has actually tried to use it. He was probably a shower guy. There are design elements like this (wood paneled ice dispenser out by the elevator) throughout the Hotel 1000, which design elements create radical interventions in the expectation field of hotel life, but in many cases the solutions are more glitzy than practical. Look, you know all of this. So let me be positive! I loved the restaurant, where I had a really great veggie burger, and the guys out at valet parking were very kind to me, when I didnt know where the hell I was going, which is a frequent situation in my case. So the service was good! It had better be good, however, because The Standard is putting in a Seattle Standard right next door. I saw the contractors going in and out. Before you know it, Hotel 1000, its not going to be just the Alexis across the street. Soon you, with your barely usable tubs, will be competing against The Standard, and a battalion of bored-looking models in cages in the lobby, etc. Get some soap for that tub now, quickly!

How many times must I speak ill of the foam pillow before you will listen! How many times must I stay in a hotel, one in which the most elegant of dogs is liable to get onto the elevator with you (pet friendly!), only to find that even in this superior lodging environment the pillows are those foam monoliths, which are very much like putting your head down on a molded polyurethane flotation device (with barnacles)such as you might use when shipwrecked and floating alone in the Pacific, 1,100 nautical miles southwest of New Caledonia, to an uncertain fate! Why are the pillows like that, why are they exactly like drifting in the Pacific when you think at any moment that some immemorial sea creature, C. Megalodon, for example, might bear down on you, in your solitary misfortune, to bisect you and then use your severed femur to clean out a few particles at its gum line, periodontal-style, before going off in search of fodder elsewhere. Foam pillows give me that sort of repose. I dont care if they are those extra long foam pillows, and I dont care if there is a bolster in front of them, in crimson brocade, which brocade means to suggest the fine taste of the Hotel Marlowe, if the pillows are those foam pillows then your taste is revealed as taste of a superficial variety. And fuck your indie rock station playing at the valet parking station, which was audible in our room (eighth floor), and in the great majority of rooms at the Hotel Marlowe. It probably caused havoc for all the dogs attempting to sleep here last night. That said, my sleeplessness was less because of your indie rock and your remarkably awful pillows, and more about Paris. Oh, City of Lights!

If youre in the hotel reviewing business long enough, you will come to experience every conceivable hotel anomaly. Eventually you will have trouble in your room with the presence of a trapeze artist on Ritalin who wont stop talking about Fabio dust jackets from the 80s. That was not our problem in Baltimore. Our problem in Baltimore was perfume. For the connoisseur of perfumes, the Embassy Suites must be a long-sought-after destination, because our room, at least, was noteworthy for the presence of one of those perfumes that is essential for concealing the presence of a dead body, or perhaps the total absence of showering by, e.g., a trapeze artist on Ritalin, over the course of several weeks. The perfume seemed, Vegas-style, to have been piped in, because we did open the windows in order to try to mix it up with some Baltimore city traffic fumes, without perfect success! The perfume, I would say, had overtones of grandmotherly lavender, and urinal cake, and perhaps a whiff of vanilla (of the Madagascar variety), but all at a strength that could have been used during the trench warfare of WWI on the German side. K., who has very particular feelings about smells, namely that there should be no smells, was a wraith during the overnight, perched by the open window at various intervals whispering, Reg, Reg, Reg, it smells like a dead body. Another analogy, perhaps, would be the redolence of the corpse flower, or amorphophallus titanum, about which you probably know something already. The horrible part, on the overnight, is as follows: because the windows were open, we were able to hear, even up here on the 35th floor, the cries of some romantic coupling at street level, which could not be reliably called consensual with certainty, possibly human, which was then broken up with Hey, break it up there! emerging from our own lobby, it must be assumed. We would have shouted Go get a room!, ourselves, excepting that the couple in question would have had trouble getting to the completion stage in a room such as ours that smelled a little bit like amorphophallus titanum. (Also: shower ice cold.)

The following are the major tributaries of the Mississippi River: the Des Moines River, the Illinois River, the Kishwaukee River, the Minnesota River, the Missouri River, the Ohio River, the Red River, the Arkansas River, the Upper Iowa River, the White River. The following are the major tributaries of the Des Moines River: Beaver Creek, Competine Creek, Raccoon River, White Breast Creek. The Beaver Creek is approximately 77 miles long and joins the Des Moines River in Polk County. The Beaver, which is approximately 18 feet above normal as I write these lines, or nearing flood stage, has tributaries including Middle Beaver Creek, East Beaver Creek, West Beaver Creek, Slough Creek, Beaver Branch, Jim Creek, and not one but two Little Beaver Creeks. Beaver Creek is a translation of a Native American name. There were, in fact, beavers on Beaver Creek until they were driven out, no doubt by westward expansion of European immigrants in the 19th century. The Competine Creek is only 9.8 miles and joins the Des Moines River at Lake Red Rock. The Raccoon River is 30.8 miles, or more if you include some of its forks, and it joins the Des Moines River right in town here. Right by the baseball stadium, in fact, the stadium that houses the AAA Pacific Coast League Iowa Cubs. The road to the stadium is called Line Drive, and they have a lovely little gift shop where there was, yesterday morning, a young saleswoman called Lisa selling caps and t-shirts at 25 percent off, because the Iowa Cubs had just played their last home game of the season. She had no one to dog sit her little black pup yesterday, and so he was in the shop, getting underfoot. The breed, according to Lisa, was the chu-WEE-wee, and she found this particular chu-WEE-wee in a ditch with its brownish and tannish litter mates, all ultimately adopted elsewhere. Perhaps the ditch in question was adjacent to the Raccoon River. The dog, it should be noted, has been named by Lisa after a serial killer from a popular television show. When asked why she had named the dog after a serial killer, Lisa replied that the television serial killer was a very good-natured serial killer. And now some more history: in 1903, the Iowa Western League baseball team called the Iowa Midgets was renamed the Iowa Undertakers for one season, until the nascent insurance industry in the town scotched the experiment and lobbied for the name the Iowa Prohibitionists. Howsoever they were named, they had a losing season in each of these years. The Midgets were too slow on the base paths, the Undertakers were high from the formaldehyde and had a tendency to stiffen up at the plate, and the Prohibitionists were sanctimonious and uptight. You could purchase, at the gift shop in Principal Park, an Iowa Undertakers t-shirt, though as with many of the t-shirts for sale there, the sizes ran large. The Raccoon River reached the flood stage in 1993, and overwhelmed the drinking water supply in Des Moines, which takes water out of the river at a purification plant just outside of town. The tributaries of the Raccoon River are simply called North, Middle, and South Raccoon, and according to the Beaver Creek naming theory, it is likely that there were or still are raccoons in the area of the Raccoon River. The Raccoon River is heavily polluted with nitrates, enough so that pregnant women have been urged to avoid drinking from it recently. The White Breast Creek is 91.3 miles long and it joins the Des Moines River at Lake Red Rock. All the tributaries thereof have charming names like South White Breast, and Little White Breast. I wonder which farm wife was so memorialized, and was it the same farm wife memorialized with the tributary called Flank Creek. There are also tributaries of the White Breast called Indian Creek, Cotton Creek, and Hawk Run. A list of other picturesque rivers of Iowa would include the Fabius River, the Chariton River, the Grand River, the Little River, the Little Fox River, the Platte, the East Fork East Nodaway River, the West Fork Middle Nodaway, the Rutt Branch, the East Nishnabotna, the Pea Creek, the Boone River, the Lizard Creek, the East Fork East Nishnabotna, the Keg Creek, the no doubt accurately-named Mosquito Creek, the Thunder Creek, the Squaw Creek, the Little Sioux, the Cedar (which has the rapids), the Winnebago, the Ocheyedan, the English, the North English, the Middle English (where they use words like eek and thilke), the Little Wapsipinicon, Catfish Creek, the Turkey Branch, the Volga, the Little Turkey, and of course the Blue Earth River, and its tributary the Middle Branch Blue Earth River. This constitutes the better part of my researches on rivers of Iowa, some of which I could see from the window of my room at the Downtown Des Moines Embassy Suites. When a hotel is far, far better than you have any reason to expect it to be, there is no choice but to concentrate your writerly attentions in other directions. From my window in the Embassy Suites I could look down directly upon the Des Moines River, and in the middle distance I could see where the Raccoon River emptied into it. A light-up arch rose above the Des Moines River, here below my window, a sort of a juvenile version of the Gateway Arch of St. Louis, and at night this arch was very dramatic. It framed, more or less, the World Food Prize Hall of Laureates, across the Des Moines River from the hotel. The World Food Prize Hall of Laureates sort of resembles a Florentine mansion. It once housed the Central Library for Des Moines. The guy who started the World Food Prize saved a billion lives with his formula for hybrid grains. Likewise, this year the World Food Prize was awarded to a guy who developed sorghum hybrids resistant to witchweed. The roiling waters of the Des Moines from my window, the swift current running down toward the Raccoon would appear to make the river treacherous in the extreme for swimmers. And yet adjacent to the lesser arch there are classically perfect almost Parisian steps leading down and into the watery substratum of death. Likewise there is a ramp on the far side by the World Food Prize, where you might climb from the violent waters of the Des Moines River, having bathed in the agricultural nitrates. It is hard, from the sixth floor of the Downtown Des Moines Embassy Suites, to part with the idea of plunging into the arterial waters of planet earth, the Raccoon leading to the Des Moines, leading to the Mississippi, leading to the Gulf of Mexico, leading to the Atlantic Ocean, leading to the Gulf Stream, leading to the Arctic. The restless and unquiet surface of the Des Moines River looks so pictorially like the surface of human consciousness, dangerous, turbulent, uncertain, but also majestic, graceful, deep, even if to plunge in is to risk being carried off to your demise. As the downtown of Des Moines is mostly free of pedestrians, it is hard imagine that you would be quickly rescued. And yet the arch seems to call.

Rick Moody is the author of four previous novels: The Four Fingers of Death, Purple America, The Ice Storm, and Garden State, as well as an award-winning memoir and multiple collections of short fiction. He is the recipient of a Guggenheim fellowship, and his work has been anthologized in Best American Stories, Best American Essays, and the Pushcart Prize anthology. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Read more: http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/11/26/great-reviews-of-some-sketchy-hotels.html

#NeverRomney Campaign Reopens GOP Wounds

The prospect of Donald Trump appointing a moderate former governor to become his Secretary of State has reignited party infighting.”>

Mitt Romney may be on deck to be the new face of America to the world, and some Trump loyalists dont like it. While the rest of the country warded off tryptophan-induced paralysis over Thanksgiving weekend, Trump insiders sniped at Romney and promoted rivals.

Romney refused to support Trump during the campaign and wouldnt say who he voted forthe kind of disloyalty that Trump claims to despise.

Despite that, the two men met earlier this week and Trump said Romney looks like he came out of central casting for the role, according to the New York Times. Meanwhile, former Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway tweeted on Thanksgiving Day that she was Receiving deluge of social media & private comms re: Romney. A cadre of longtime Trump boosters joined the pile-on, including Sean Hannity, Newt Gingrich, and Fox Business host Lou Dobbs. Trump insiders anonymously told The Daily Mail that they may demand an apology from Romney. Even conspiracy theorist radio host Alex Jones got in on it, sending Trump an impassioned message on his Thanksgiving Day broadcast:

This is letting the vampire in, Jones said.

If Mitt Romney does not apologize publicly repeatedly and does not eat crow, then you can know that individual is only sharpening a twelve-inch dagger to shove it in your back as soon as you turn your back, he added.

But on the transition teams daily conference call with reporters, Trump spokesman Jason Miller wrote off the conflict as over-speculation and hype.

A lot of the palace intrigue gets a little bit overblown at this stage of the process, Miller said. I think its important to note that the president-elect is meeting with a number of well-qualified potential selections for this position that share his America first foreign policy, some of whom have been public and others have not.

Miller told The Daily Beast after the call that Trump will have more meetings with yet-unnamed Secretary of State contenders. So this process could take some time.

In the meantime, people in Trumps inner circle are unlikely to tone down the #NeverRomney rhetoric. Rudy Giuliani, an early Trump supporter, made the case for himself to the Wall Street Journal yesterday. The paper noted that the former New York City mayor is in an unusually public fight for the gig. And he isnt shy about it.

I probably have traveled in the last 13 years as much as Hillary did in the years she was secretary of state, he told the paper. My knowledge of foreign policy is as good, or better, than anybody theyre talking to.

Ive been to England eight times, Japan six times, France five times. China three timesonce with Bill Clinton, by the way, he added. You cant say I dont know the world.

And on the way, he picked up some baggagenamely, his association with Mujahedin-e al Khalq, a group the State Department designated as a terrorist organization from 1997 to 2012, as the Journal noted. Giuliani says MEK isnt a terrorist group. Saddam Hussein once sheltered the group and gave it weapons. The Heritage Foundation criticized MEK for those ties in a 2011 paper. But the Saddam link may not bother Trump; he famously praised the dictator on the campaign trail, saying he killed terrorists.

For his part, Romney has stayed far away from the media fraybasically taking an approach that is the opposite of Giulianis. He isnt doing cable news interviews, he isnt tweeting, and his staffers arent returning reporters requests for comment on the foofaraw. Ryan Williams, a former campaign spokesman for Romney, said this is classic Mitt.

Mitt is a man of great integrity and class, Williams told The Daily Beast. Im not surprised to see that he is staying out of the fray and showing respect to President-elect Trump by letting him reach his own decision.

The Trump team says they wont announce any cabinet-level or administrative positions over the weekend, so for now, well have to wait and see.

Read more: http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/11/25/neverromney-campaign-reopens-gop-wounds.html

Already Happening: Media Normalization of Trumpism

His polls numbers will…improve. The international community will…come around. Melania and Ivanka will be…unorthodox but charming. Brace yourselves for a huge media fail.”>

In the childrens short story The Emperors New Clothes, by Hans Christian Andersen, what kept the fiction of the naked emperors sartorial splendor alive was nothing in particular about the emperor. True, he was vain and plainly foolish; easily tricked by the false flattery of swindlers into paying a kingly sum for a cloak so fine and magical that only the wise and true could see it. But it was the people of the kingdom, including his trusted advisers, who maintained the absurd notion that he was splendidly clothed, because none the emperor included wanted to admit that they were so unworthy as to not see the bright colors and fine threads.

Only the characteristic bluntness of a child, who proclaimed the emperors nudity as he paraded through the streets humiliating himself and his kingdom, threatened to break the spell. But when the boy spoke out he was quickly rebuked by his father, who assured the gasping public that the child was clearly soft in the head. So powerful is the compulsion to normalize the powerful.

With Donald Trump about to ascend to the White House, the media risk being tamed by their devotion to access and the belligerencies of the notoriously vengeful resident of Trump Tower and his right-wing wrecking crew of a team. We face a singular test, both as a profession and as a country: will we allow ourselves to see what we see, or will we mentally drape the naked emperor in our midst?

Trump is beset by clear and alarming conflicts between his international business concerns and the national interest. In just the two weeks since the voters delivered him a narrow Electoral College victory, he has openly met with his Indian business partners; put his daughter on the phone with foreign leaders; dangled an unavailable ambassadorship to his UK political doppelganger Nigel Farage and simultaneously pushed Farage to help kill a wind farm project that would mar his Scottish golf course view. His leased D.C. hotel inside the old Post Office has become a prime destination for those seeking a way to curry favor with the incoming president by sliding their credit cards and at checkout time.

Real questions are being raised about possible violations of the Constitutions emoluments clause, and theres more to come. Trump is battling Washington D.C. over taxes owed by the hotel, which he leases from the same federal government he will soon lead. The LPGA will in months host a golf tournament on a course branded with the presidents name. Trump remains the subject of numerous lawsuits, ongoing questions about his self-dealing charity, and an alleged IRS audit (he will soon appoint the head of the agency). He only recently (and allegedly) divested himself of a substantial investment in the Dakota Access Pipeline that he will soon have a hand in resolving through his command of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. And there are lingering questions as to whether he sexually harassed or assaulted women, and perhaps more to the point: how many.

And these are just a handful of the personal and legal quagmires he faces.

Add to that the alarming consensus of experts regarding extensive Russian interference in the U.S. election through the pumping of fake news and propaganda into the countrys digital bloodstream, and the unprecedented intervention of the FBIwithin two weeksof the voting, and serious questions of basic legitimacy shroud the incoming president, who lost the popular vote by more than 2 million votes and counting.

And despite Jill Steins self-promotional foray into machine-rigging conspiracy theories, which happen to distract from real questions about voter disenfranchisement and suppression, Trump is likely to survive the three-state recount challenges. The Electoral College is unlikely to take the advice of legal scholars who have called on them to choose the person who got millions more votes to be the president.

Trump will, barring circumstances that are at this stage unforeseeable, be sworn in as the countrys 45thpresident on January 20.

The worst case scenario for the next four years is daunting: a country sinking into kleptocracy, with its natural resources, parks and lands carved up and sold off by Trump and his billionaire cabinet to the highest bidder with fat tax credits to boot; Medicare and other beloved social safety net programs dismantled along with Obamacare and its protections for 20 million people; a Justice Department sowing fear rather than confidence in communities of color; terrified immigrants and Muslims relying on Democratic mayors as their only shield; and an international community left horrified by an America that seems to have lost both its soul and its mind.

If thats whats coming, beware of the fictions that are sure to come with it; little lies that salve your discontent, but that obscure the realities that become more and more unpopular to speak of.

Donald Trump will enter office as the most unpopular incoming president since Gallup began keeping trackwith Harry Truman; and the only one to enter with a negative approval rating. For comparison, Barack Obama entered office with an approval rating of 68 percent and a +41 positive spread. George W. Bush, even after the disputed 2000 election, came in at 59 percent favorable. That was one point higher than Bill Clinton managed in 1992, and with just 36 percent viewing Obama unfavorably. Had Hillary Clinton been on her way to the White House, you would have been reminded of her negative approval ratings which were not as bad as Trumps every day.

Instead, you may now be told that Trumps improvement from a historically dismal 34 percent favorability to an equally unprecedented 42 percent favorable, 55 percent unfavorable is good news.

Trump is reviled around the world. British television openly derided him as the pussy grabber when I visited there last week. He is the object of mockery and loathing. While Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton both inspired confidence across Europe, Trump did and does not. Under President Obama, Americas image in the world improved dramatically, and he maintains high ratings at home and abroad. Much of the world looks on in horror on what Americas undemocratic system has wrought, and theyre clinging to Germanys Angela Merkel as the new leader of the West.

You, however, may be told that the international community is coming around to Trump; a few foreign trips by him or his secretary of state and hell be fine. You may be asked to believe that somehow and suddenly, an inner statesman who hasnt shown himself in 70 years will crawl out of Trumps enormous frame.

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Over time, Stephen Bannon, who turned a right-wing website that was merely angry and dishonest when founder Andrew Breitbart was alive into a home for white nationalists, may be allowed to morph into a perfectly innocuous adviser. No notice will be taken when he stands, smirking, beside Nikki Haley, Ben Carson and whatever other practitioners of pure self-interest choose to stand unironically at his side. You may be presented with the idea that his presence does not befoul the White House, when it does. The racially hostile views of Sessions, Kobach, Giuliani, and Trump himself may begin to fade into bland obscurity.

You may be asked, over the next four years, to accept things you never dreamed would be acceptable, and to turn a blind eye to vulgarity and hypocrisy and failure. Youll be sold the pageantry of presidential succession, along with lighthearted stories about Melanias New York shopping sprees or Ivankas parenting tips. Long forgotten will be questions about the formers immigration lies or the fact that potentially any world leader has seen photographs of the first lady naked; or about the many times the latter has been the object of prurient commentary by her father. Religious leaders will grin and embrace the Trump presidency as if it was blessed by God almighty, even as they hover over bill signings designed to consign women and gays back to second class status and ignore the Biblical admonition to see to the poor, the widow and the orphan.

You may be asked to look away; to pretend its all good, as foreign interests feed Trump with flattery and graft. Russias Vladimir Putin will likely be first in line tooohandahhat our emperors brilliant new clothes; the better to have his way around the world.

To be sure, some media, traditional and not, will also present you with the unvarnished truth; there are good, solid journalists out there still doing the work. But traditional media are bending under the weight of fake news and meme culture. And the tug of normalization is powerful; even pleasing, when reality is unthinkable. The urge to look away, to pretend to see fine threads when the king comes strolling by, with his bare belly jutting out, can be irresistible.

For the good of the country, heres hoping enough people resist.

Read more: http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/11/27/already-happening-media-normalization-of-trumpism.html

Tech Was Supposed to Crash in 2016. It Got Real Instead

Remember, remember, late 2015 November? You may recall it was getting chilly. That’s certainly how the weather started feeling for startups seeking to bathe in the warm glow of venture capital. Silicon Valley could sense the crash coming. The unicorn reckoning was nigh. But a year later, it still hasn’t really arrived.

Certainly, money isn’t as easy to get as it used to be. After a record third quarter in 2015, overall VC funding has contracted by nearly 40 percent a year later. Since last year, according to industry researcher CB Insights, there have been 93 down roundsoccasions where startups have raised more money, but accepted lower valuations to do so. Stock prices of hardware startups GoPro and Fitbit have plummetedby 60 and 80 percent, respectivelyin 2016. One Kings Lane, a home furnishings online retailer that at its peak was worth nearly $1 billion, sold itself to the conventional giant it promised to upend, Bed Bath and Beyond, for a mere $12 million.

So yes, gone are the good ol days when entrepreneurs could pitch ideas as far-fetched as a grilled cheese restaurant chain or a Dropbox for physical storage and still walk away with millions of dollars in seed money.

And none of this is a real surprise. With high-profile venture capitalists like Bill Gurley warning as far back as 2014, that too much money has been pouring into the tech industry, the script for what happens next was supposed to have already been written. 2016 was supposed to be the year that the tech bubble burst. And yet it hasnt. Turns out the whole metaphor was wrong.

Bigger Checks, Fewer Deals

So, whats going on? Its not that the big VC thought leaders got the concept wrong, says Ben Narasin, a general partner at the seed-stage venture capital firm Canvas. It may just be that the bubble trope constrained people’s thinking about what was really going on. “It wasnt a bubble that burst but a balloon that deflates,” he says.

In reality, any one metaphor is too simplistic to account for the whole story. Adding to the complexity this past year is that, even as venture capitalists back fewer startups, the firms themselves are raising more money than ever. So far, US venture funds have raised $32.4 billion in 2016 according to the National Venture Capital Association, an industry trade group. That surpasses the total raised for the entirety of 2015$28.2 billion, putting 2016 on track to become a record-breaking year. At the same time, however, VC firms arent spreading their dollars as far and wide as they have in the past, a signal of a new and more cautious investment strategy.

“I think a lot of this is VCs wanting to be prepared,” says Narasin. “They’re raising money they didnt have an immediate need for to prepare for future problems.”

Yet venture capitalists aren’t exactly pessimistic. In 2016, firms invested $56 billion across 6,000 companiesa volume second only to the massive investment boom of one year ago. But a decline is still a decline: researchers note that following a lively check-writing period from early to mid-2015, deal volume has stayed at a moderate level, signifying that investors are writing bigger checks for fewer deals.

Thats certainly consistent with pervasive anecdotes of smaller startups becoming much more realistic about their business models while the bigger fisher, unicornsin the pond are still able to raise sky-high rounds. “The very best companies were able to raise money,” Narasin says. “Everyone else fell into one of two camps: ones that battened down the hatches and survived, or ones that werent going to make it.” In that second camp are high upfront subsidy businesses like the exercise class reseller Classpass, which raised prices in 2016 in spite of a big outcry from customers to make ends meetthen still had to get rid of its eponymous unlimited classes option entirely.

‘Its not like people felt there wasnt going to be value created in Silicon Valley.’

On the other side, meanwhile, are the big, obvious winners, the startups that seem too big to fail. Chinese ride-hailing giant Didi (current valuation: $33 billion) raised more than $7 billion in funding in June, not long after Apple invested $1 billion in the company. (By August, Uber had conceded the entire Chinese ride-hailing market to Didi, agreeing to a merger of the two companies.) Slack is still killing it, solidifying a $3.8 billion valuation after closing a new round of financing in April. Uber is currently valued at $69 billion and Airbnb at up to $30 billion. At the seeming top of the pile, Snap Inc., owner of Snapchat, has confidentially filed paperwork for an initial public offering that could value the ephemeral messaging platform between $25 and $35 billionpotentially making it the third-most valuable market debut of all time for a tech company behind Facebook and Alibaba. If a Snap IPO succeeds, look for more tech companies going public next year.

Good to Great

In one formulation, this contraction could work out well not just for the industry but for customers. This year, a difference between the haves and have-nots became much more distinct, says Scott Raney, a partner at Redpoint Ventures. It was “good versus bad” in the past, says Raney, where the difference between good and bad depended on whether or not startups could raise money.

“Now, its ‘great versus good,’ says Raney. “If youre a great company, raking in money is not difficult at all.” But good companies still exist, he says. Theyre the ones with “the ability to not require lots of capital for the growth phase, but can build compelling business models efficiently.”

The long, cold season of tech investing may have ended up looking less like Siberia and more like a mild winter. Raney says thats all the more reason to stay optimistic about tech. Its not like people felt there wasnt going to be value created in Silicon Valley,” he says. Ultimately, people still do believe in the value of innovation, Raney says. It may just be that this is the dawn of a newly realistic approachwhich doesnt seem like half-bad way of looking at the future.

Read more: https://www.wired.com/2016/11/tech-supposed-crash-2016-got-real-instead/

The Best Holiday Movies and TV Shows EverDont Even Argue with Us

“If they can make it into a holiday, I can make it into a picturea motion picture!” Garry Marshall (probably) said once. And indeed, Hollywood has long used our wintry, woozy family get-togethers as the basis for all kinds of movies and TV specials, many of them as satisfying as a burning yule log to the head. But every once in a while, a film or episode comes along that perfectly captures the spirit of the holidayor, at the very least, upends said spirit in delightfully fiendish ways! Here are some of our favorite seasonal stand-outs:

Lethal Weapon (1987)

Though it opens with the happily rollicking riffs of “Jingle Bell Rock,” the first Lethal entry is full of bad little girls and boys: This is a movie in which a drugged-up superfox takes a nosedive from a seasonally decorated high-rise apartment, and a film whose main hero, Martin Riggs (Mel Gibson), is introduced via a scene in which he kills a bunch of creepy coke-dealers who are doing business in a field of Christmas trees. It’s not a family-friendly movieyou’ll want to make sure your kids are too old for this shit before letting them watchbut its juxtaposition of dark, sleaze-soaked violence against the faux-happy holiday setting is a reminder that, in the movies, you can never be sure who’s naughty, and who’s nice. Brian Raftery

Though it opens with the happily rollicking riffs of “Jingle Bell Rock,” the first Lethal entry is full of bad little girls and boys: This is a movie in which a drugged-up superfox takes a nosedive from a seasonally decorated high-rise apartment, and a film whose main hero, Martin Riggs (Mel Gibson), is introduced via a scene in which he kills a bunch of creepy coke-dealers who are doing business in a field of Christmas trees. It’s not a family-friendly movieyou’ll want to make sure your kids are too old for this shit before letting them watchbut its juxtaposition of dark, sleaze-soaked violence against the faux-happy holiday setting is a reminder that, in the movies, you can never be sure who’s naughty, and who’s nice. Brian Raftery

Pitch Perfect (2012)

One New Years weekend, I ended up with a bunch of out-of-town friends staying at my apartment. Each night we would go out to dinner or a bar or go dancing, but always when we returned, we watched Pitch Perfect. Its a surprising crowd-pleaser. Theres something for musical theater geeks, coming-of-age movie fans, and comedy aficionados alike. And thanks to the deadpan humor of folks like Rebel Wilson, its possible to watch it many times in a row and still catch a new gag every time. Aca-believe it.Angela Watercutter

One New Years weekend, I ended up with a bunch of out-of-town friends staying at my apartment. Each night we would go out to dinner or a bar or go dancing, but always when we returned, we watched Pitch Perfect. Its a surprising crowd-pleaser. Theres something for musical theater geeks, coming-of-age movie fans, and comedy aficionados alike. And thanks to the deadpan humor of folks like Rebel Wilson, its possible to watch it many times in a row and still catch a new gag every time. Aca-believe it.Angela Watercutter

Seinfeld, “The Strike” (1997)

Most network shows Christmas episodes are lovely and heartfelt, veering towards sickly sweet. Seinfelds best holiday special is the opposite. The Strike is as packed with storylines as any other episodeinstead of gifts, George makes donations in co-workers names to the imaginary Human Fund; Kramer goes back to work after a 12-year strike; Elaine tries to track down her free sub card; and Jerrys girlfriend looks vastly different depending on the light. But the crescendowhere every disparate plot converges on Georges parents home for Festivus, a holiday built around an aluminum pole, an “Airing of Grievances,” and “Feats of Strength”is claustrophobic, frenetic, and beautifully insane.Joseph Bien-Khan

Most network shows Christmas episodes are lovely and heartfelt, veering towards sickly sweet. Seinfelds best holiday special is the opposite. The Strike is as packed with storylines as any other episodeinstead of gifts, George makes donations in co-workers names to the imaginary Human Fund; Kramer goes back to work after a 12-year strike; Elaine tries to track down her free sub card; and Jerrys girlfriend looks vastly different depending on the light. But the crescendowhere every disparate plot converges on Georges parents home for Festivus, a holiday built around an aluminum pole, an “Airing of Grievances,” and “Feats of Strength”is claustrophobic, frenetic, and beautifully insane.Joseph Bien-Khan

Die Hard (1988)

Frankly, every other movie in this list is wet trash compared to John McClane and Holly Gennaro’s against-all-odds love story. When a New York City cop (Bruce Willis) heads to LA to see his estranged wife (Bonnie Bedelia) for Christmas, he stumbles upon a gang of bad-guy archetypes trying to pull off the bad-guy trifecta: hostagin’, hackin’, and heistin’. Armed with nothing but a tank top and a high pain threshold, he has to save a holiday party, a skyscraper, and his marriage. There were 80s action movies with muscles and guns before this, and 80s action movies that came after it, but the Battle of Nakatomi Tower was the perfect exclamation point to the perfect decade of a perfect genre. Yippee-ki-yay, movie-rankers. Peter Rubin

Frankly, every other movie in this list is wet trash compared to John McClane and Holly Gennaro’s against-all-odds love story. When a New York City cop (Bruce Willis) heads to LA to see his estranged wife (Bonnie Bedelia) for Christmas, he stumbles upon a gang of bad-guy archetypes trying to pull off the bad-guy trifecta: hostagin’, hackin’, and heistin’. Armed with nothing but a tank top and a high pain threshold, he has to save a holiday party, a skyscraper, and his marriage. There were 80s action movies with muscles and guns before this, and 80s action movies that came after it, but the Battle of Nakatomi Tower was the perfect exclamation point to the perfect decade of a perfect genre. Yippee-ki-yay, movie-rankers. Peter Rubin

Love Actually (2003)

When you’re looking for a heart-warming Christmas movie, maybe you want Liam Neeson in a father-son bonding story. Or Bill Nighy as a washed-up, sleazy rock star making an unlikely reach for the Number One single of Christmas. Or Hugh Grant as a love-struck Prime Minister, dancing through 10 Downing Street to the Pointer Sisters. Well, its a Christmas miracle: Love Actually has all of that!Yes, it’sgloriously cheesybut with a star-studded cast scattered across eight different plotlines, its got the right cheese for everyone, whether youre laughing at Rowan Atkinson or swooning overColin Firth. Or (likely) both.Charley Locke

When you’re looking for a heart-warming Christmas movie, maybe you want Liam Neeson in a father-son bonding story. Or Bill Nighy as a washed-up, sleazy rock star making an unlikely reach for the Number One single of Christmas. Or Hugh Grant as a love-struck Prime Minister, dancing through 10 Downing Street to the Pointer Sisters. Well, its a Christmas miracle: Love Actually has all of that!Yes, it’sgloriously cheesybut with a star-studded cast scattered across eight different plotlines, its got the right cheese for everyone, whether youre laughing at Rowan Atkinson or swooning overColin Firth. Or (likely) both.Charley Locke

Elf (2003)

Love Actually gets all the think pieces, but the best holiday movie released on November 7, 2003 was actually the film that launched Will Ferrell to leading-man stardom and Jon Favreau to blockbuster director status. This is the origin of the Will Ferrell as a elevator pitch that was for a time an automatic green lighthes more committed to Buddy the Elfs magical innocence that any other actor in a holiday classic. Plus, Bob Newhart as Papa Elf and Ed Asner as Santa. James Caan as a gruff childrens book publisher scrambling for a hit to save his job. And Peter Dinklage as the hot-shot author with a list of ridiculous demands. What more do you need? K.M. McFarland

Love Actually gets all the think pieces, but the best holiday movie released on November 7, 2003 was actually the film that launched Will Ferrell to leading-man stardom and Jon Favreau to blockbuster director status. This is the origin of the Will Ferrell as a elevator pitch that was for a time an automatic green lighthes more committed to Buddy the Elfs magical innocence that any other actor in a holiday classic. Plus, Bob Newhart as Papa Elf and Ed Asner as Santa. James Caan as a gruff childrens book publisher scrambling for a hit to save his job. And Peter Dinklage as the hot-shot author with a list of ridiculous demands. What more do you need? K.M. McFarland

Community, “Abeds Uncontrollable Christmas” (2010)

The first-season holiday episode of Community dealt with political correctness on a college campus. But the second season went full Rankin and Bass, with a stop-motion animated special revolving around Abed Nadir (Danny Pudi) having a full emotional breakdown over not spending the holidayswith his mother. It uses the nostalgia of the old Christmas specials to tell a story about coping with loss through new friendshipwith funny songs, fantastical characters, and Jon Oliver as a psychology professor angling for a high-profile journal article with a unique case. K.M. McFarland

The first-season holiday episode of Community dealt with political correctness on a college campus. But the second season went full Rankin and Bass, with a stop-motion animated special revolving around Abed Nadir (Danny Pudi) having a full emotional breakdown over not spending the holidayswith his mother. It uses the nostalgia of the old Christmas specials to tell a story about coping with loss through new friendshipwith funny songs, fantastical characters, and Jon Oliver as a psychology professor angling for a high-profile journal article with a unique case. K.M. McFarland

National Lampoons Christmas Vacation (1989)

The entire run of National Lampoons Vacation movies are great antidotes to family drama, but Christmasis the perfect one for the holidays. Thats mostly because every family has a Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase)that one guy who wants everyone to be together for the holidays, even when its the worst idea possible. In Clarks case, though, that family also includes an elderly aunt who gift-wraps cats and a drunk cousin who empties his RVs “shitter” in the storm drain outside Clarks house. This is a must-watch. Youll have the hap, hap, happiest Christmas since Bing Crosby tap-danced with Danny fuckin’ Kaye. Angela Watercutter

The entire run of National Lampoons Vacation movies are great antidotes to family drama, but Christmasis the perfect one for the holidays. Thats mostly because every family has a Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase)that one guy who wants everyone to be together for the holidays, even when its the worst idea possible. In Clarks case, though, that family also includes an elderly aunt who gift-wraps cats and a drunk cousin who empties his RVs “shitter” in the storm drain outside Clarks house. This is a must-watch. Youll have the hap, hap, happiest Christmas since Bing Crosby tap-danced with Danny fuckin’ Kaye. Angela Watercutter

Read more: https://www.wired.com/2016/11/best-holiday-movies-shows/