Robert Vinet

Peripatetic Canadian

Author: Robert (page 1 of 86)

The unlikely resurgence of Birkenstocks

The family-owned German brand has more than doubled production since 2012. This is the story of how stylish shoppers have embraced the sandals once regarded as the aesthetically challenged footwear of comfort-minded hippies.

If you didn’t know that Birkenstock has seen a huge resurgence in the past few years, it’s probably because you never stopped wearing them, like my friend Rob, who got his first pair 37 years ago, when he lived on a commune. This summer in Provincetown, says the stylist Miguel Enamorado, “since Birkenstock has made the rubber sandal, everyone in P-town is wearing them. It’s the new flip-flop.” He means the new polymer sandals, known as EVAs, which are molded in the shape of Birkenstock’s tried-and-true styles — the two-strap Arizona, one-strap Madrid, and thong Gizeh — and cost $40, as opposed to $100 and up for the traditional styles. The EVAs now account for as much as 15 percent of the 25 million pairs of shoes the company will make this year.

More at NY Magazine

Coffee delivery drone patented by IBM

A coffee-delivering drone that can detect when people are tired and bring them a drink has been patented by technology company IBM.

The patent describes a drone that can identify the “cognitive state” of office workers and lower cups of coffee on an “unspooling string”.

More at BBC

Prosperity has increased but happiness has not

What’s wrong with that picture?

Happiness does not follow prosperity. Otherwise kazillionaires would not be drinking and self-medicating themselves to death. Or jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge.

In America (and also in other countries), an impressive postwar rise in material well-being has had zero effect on personal well-being. The divergence between economic growth and subjective satisfaction began decades ago. Real per capita income has more than tripled since the late 1950s, but the percentage of people saying they are very happy has, if anything, slightly declined.

And

Ordinary people’s well-being depends mainly on their immediate surroundings. If you are an autoworker who loses your job in Massena, N.Y., when G.M. closes its local plant (moving some jobs to Mexico) and who spends years out of work and who watches as schools shut down and shops go dark and young people flee — for you, the fact that America’s big coastal cities are doing great, or that more than half a billion Chinese have been lifted out of extreme poverty, merely rubs salt in your wounds.

Second, all happiness is relative. Although moral philosophers may wish Homo sapiens were wired more rationally, we humans are walking, talking status meters, constantly judging our worth and social standing by comparing ourselves with others today and with our own prior selves.

Read More at the NY Times (paywall)

Arctic’s strongest sea ice breaks up for first time on record

The oldest and thickest sea ice in the Arctic has started to break up, opening waters north of Greenland that are normally frozen, even in summer.

This phenomenon – which has never been recorded before – has occurred twice this year due to warm winds and a climate-change driven heatwave in the northern hemisphere.

One meteorologist described the loss of ice as “scary”. Others said it could force scientists to revise their theories about which part of the Arctic will withstand warming the longest.

More at The Guardian

Canadian government vows to pull two million out of poverty within 12 years, without increased spending

The Canadian Liberal government is looking to lift two million Canadians out of poverty by 2030 without committing to new spending.

Justin Trudeau’s government will introduce legislation “as early as possible” to entrench the official poverty line into law. The new plan links multiple federal programs to efforts to reduce poverty and predicts those measures will lift about 650,000 Canadians out of poverty by 2019, next year.

Social Development Minister Jean-Yves Duclos pointed to a list of already announced federal programs to reach that goal.

Duclos was in Vancouver Tuesday to unveil the Liberal’s anti-poverty plan, called “Opportunity for All — Canada’s First Poverty Reduction Strategy.”

It calls for a reduction in the rate of poverty by 20 per cent from 2015 levels by 2020 and by 50 per cent by 2030.

That would mean about 2.1 million people would no longer live under the poverty line within 12 years.

Read More at CBC

 

This 30-year-old commutes 4 hours, and 140 miles, every day so he doesn’t have to pay $4,500-a-month San Francisco rent

He is not alone. This has been happening in other major cities (Toronto comes immediately to mind) for many years. And the situation is getting worst in many of the worlds business centers. Logically, this is not sustainable.

Most importantly, at some point, one must ask themselves what is truly important in their life.

It’s dark and cold. The alarm clock flashes 4:30 a.m. Danny Finlay drags himself out of bed and mentally prepares for the two-hour, 72-mile commute ahead of him. And that’s just the first half of his journey.

For almost a year, Finlay, 30, has been commuting to the San Francisco Bay Area from the rural town of Dixon, California, where he lives with his wife, Mireya. Previously, he traveled two hours to his job in Oakland. Now, he goes even further to get to his new job as an account executive at public relations firm SutherlandGold located in San Francisco.

Finlay’s usually in his car by 5:10, he tells CNBC Make It. There isn’t normally a lot of congestion that early, “but once I start to progress, maybe 20 miles in, traffic will start to hit because you’re getting into more populated towns as you get closer to the Bay.”

Read More at CNBC

Tourists are destroying the places they love

The Guardian:

Unless we rethink our holiday choices, the damage and destruction to global beauty spots can only grow.

Der Spiegel:

Travel is no longer a luxury good. Airlines like Ryanair and EasyJet have contributed to a form of mass tourism that has made local residents feel like foreigners in cities like Barcelona and Rome. The infrastructure is buckling under the pressure.

More: Newsweek, The Guardian

Mona Lisa Smile

On August 21, 1911 Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa was stolen when Vincenzo Peruggia slipped the small 76-by-53-centimetre painting out of the Louvre underneath his smock. The 16th-century Florentine beauty wasn’t discovered missing until the next day as the Louvre had been closed to the public.

Peruggia was caught two years later. He had been motivated by a desire to return the painting to its homeland in Florence, Italy, where it was located.

Today, millions of people visit the Mona Lisa at the Louvre in Paris each year to catch a glimpse of her enigmatic smile.

Saskatchewan girl’s lemonade stand raises $40K for cystic fibrosis research

CBC:

Cassidy Evans was only five years old when she was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis.

But she refused to let the diagnosis get her down, and instead decided to try to do something about it.

Five years after setting up a lemonade stand, the Saskatoon girl has raised $40,000 for research into the inherited genetic disorder.

It’s World Humanitarian Day

World Humanitarian Day is a day designated by the UN to recognise aid workers who risk their lives in humanitarian service, and mobilizes people to advocate for humanitarian action.

More: Wikipedia

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