In brief: A round-up of today's news
Richard Simmons to get airline passengers "Fit to Fly", Qatar plans robotic clouds for World Cup, the spa of soon-to-open Ritz Carlton Hong Kong and more. Here are the top stories that travelers are buzzing about:
Burning calories, buckling up
The best thing to happen to the boring, obligatory airplane safety rundown since the Southwest Airlines rap, Richard Simmons stars in Air New Zealand's new pre-departure safety video and gets patrons "Fit to Fly". The fitness guru enters wearing a bejeweled tank bearing the airline's logo, elbows pumping the air, all classic Simmons perk and crazy hair. With his arsenal of neon backup dancers, he parlays safety procedures like buckling up into mock fitness moves. It is irresistibly fun, and the detail is winning, such as a picture of Simmons with jazz hands as the wallpaper on an iPhone. It can only be a matter of time until the study documenting the overall increase in pre-takeoff contentment among Air New Zealand passengers is released.
Robotic clouds, or sunscreen?
If anyone were to do it, it would be Qatar. After concerns that the scalding summer temperatures of 122 degrees Fahrenheit (50 degrees Celsius) might be a little much for the 2022 World Cup footballers who run for 90 minutes straight, scientists are drafting plans to build robotic clouds to provide shade, the BBC reports. (How was it, again, that Qatar snagged the World Cup?) The clouds would be helium-filled blimps, equipped with solar-power engines that could be maneuvered from the ground. Estimated cost per cloud: $500,000.
Primping at great heights
The Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong, which is poised to become one of the world's most luxurious hotels, is set to open tomorrow, and Huffington Post reporter Melanie Nayer offered herself up to guinea pig for the hotel's spa trial day over the weekend. Nayer runs through the ambiance and treatments, but focuses her report on the wonders of her spa technician, Sandy. It's a reminder of how sometimes all a weary traveller really needs is some kneading. And a Sandy.
"What caused the Libyan revolution of 2011? This is the 'big question' that motivates my research. At one level, the answers are simple. The Qaddafi regime has been in power for four decades. Most Libyans are tired of its oppression, and of the way it channels economic resources and opportunities to Qaddafi loyalists. With Tunisia and Egypt as inspiration, young, Facebook-using Libyans organized peaceful demonstrations on 17 February. After the regime responded with bullets, a revolution began.
That's the straightforward narrative. It is, I believe, correct. But it doesn't tell the full story."
-University of California, Berkeley PhD candidate Ryan Calder is in Libya conducting field research and began his blog over the weekend. In the same weekend, a Libyan woman ran into a hotel to tell foreign reporters of how she had been detained and raped by Gaddafi's militamen.