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Please Stand By: Pundit Network News Report Update

Editor’s note: I’m traveling a lot this month, internet access is limited. Pundit Planet will be back with fresh news when the network is back online. In the meantime, check out our archives. And pray for Houston. Explore donation options here.

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[VIDEO] Louis CK: Russia Is Very Crazy Place


NASA: Travel Posters of Fantastic Excursions


Record Numbers of Americans Traveling by Car this Holiday Season

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The vast majority of holiday travelers — more than 90 million — will be driving, and much cheaper gas prices will drive the costs of the holiday trips down.

At a rest stop in Ridgefield, New Jersey, the Wolfe family of six from Brookhaven, Mississippi, told CBS News that they’ve already logged 18 hours on the road.

Dad Nick Wolfe says their final stop is Vermont.

“Everybody is doing great. We had a DVD installed in the van, so we have been watching a lot of movies. It’s been great.”

For Alex Sphere and his family from Boston, highway driving has been great for the wallet, even if it means nearly running out of gas.

“We tried to make it to New Jersey without stopping so we could get the cheaper gas prices in New Jersey than New York, so we are running on just about empty,” Sphere said. According to AAA, the record 91 million people hitting the road is nearly 2 million more than last year.

Cheap gas may be fueling the increase. They are at an average $2 a gallon, down 37 cents from last year. A family of five driving a minivan from New York to Miami is paying just $130 one way — a savings of $80 compared to just two years ago. Read the rest of this entry »


Modern Nomad: The College Student Who Lives on Trains Instead of Paying Rent

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Read more at SMPC News 


Peter Moruzzi: Havana Before Castro, When Cuba was a Tropical Playground

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[VIDEO] Goin’ on a Road Trip!

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GAS UP, BUTTERCUP: Data Geeks Calculate What the Ultimate U.S. Road Trip Looks Like

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Who needs an atlas when you have an algorithm? Data tinkerer Randy Olson, who is now known across the internet for developing the optimum search path for Where’s Waldo books, has used this same algorithm to compute the optimal American road trip.

At the urging of Tracy Staedter from Discovery News, Olson set out to find the quickest driving route that would stop at a national natural landmark, national historic site, national park or national monument in all of the lower 48 states. He also included Washington, D.C. and added another stop in California to get to a total of 50 stops. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Traveling is Hard for Tall People


[VIDEO] Denmark’s Plan to Save its Future: Travel, Have Sex, More Sex, Win Prizes!

No one has found out how to help Denmark’s falling birth rate. Until now. Spies Travels announces a competition where you have to make a baby to win.

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Denmark faces a crisis. Our birthrate is at a 27 year low. At Spies we’re concerned. Fewer Danes mean fewer to support the ageing population – and tragically, fewer holidaying with us. Research shows that Danes have 46% more sex on city holidays and since more sex equals the chance of more kids, we are prescribing a romantic city holiday to save Denmark’s future. Let’s save the future of Denmark with romance!.

Spies Travel, Denmark

 


Vintage Paperback: W. Somerset Maugham’s ‘The Gentleman in the Parlour’

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[Check out “The Gentleman in the Parlour at Amazon]

Best Known for his novels and plays, Somerset Maugham also produced the most delightfully engaging and absorbing non-fiction, of which The Gentleman In The Parlour is a prime example. First published in 1935 it is the account of a journey the author took form Rangoon to Haiphong.Whether by river to Mandalay, on horse through the mountains and forests of the Shan States to Bangkok, or onwards by sea, Maugham’s muse is in the spirit of Hazlitt, who wrote: ‘It is great to shake off the trammels of the world and public opinion…and become the creature of the moment and to be known by no other title than ‘The Gentleman in the Parlour‘.’

“There enough raw material to sate his imagination and the journey itself takes on the contours of a story worth recording. Among the coolly-observed descriptions of ruined pagodas there’s the added treat of Maugham’s catty thoughts on his craft” – Sunday Herald (Glasgow) Read the rest of this entry »


Go USA! Cheerful Tourism Booster of the Day

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Courtesy of those upbeat folks at foreignaffairs.com 


The Visual Feast of Hong Kong: Through the Lens of Hong Kong Fong, Part 2

Greetings from Hong Kong Fong! Continuing in my new role of China Deputy Bureau Chief and Hong Kong Photo Editor for Pundit From Another Planet, and following my inaugural PFAP post, The Visual Feast of Hong Kong: Through the Lens of Hong Kong Fong, Part 1, I now share with you Part 2.

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Reflecting on Hong Kong and Chinese New Year celebrations

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Quiet deliberation before the boisterous Chinese New Year parade

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Winged dancers perform for thousands at the Chinese New Year parade

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An unguarded moment amidst adoring fans, after a traditional Chinese opera performance at the temporary West Kowloon Bamboo Theatre

The ICC skyscraper (replete with its own CNY-specific light facade) punctuates the skyline near the West Kowloon Bamboo Promenade

The ICC skyscraper (replete with its own CNY-specific light facade), punctuating the skyline near the West Kowloon Bamboo Promenade

The Piu Sik (Floating Colours) Parade, during which children appear to 'float' through the narrow streets of Cheng Chau island

The Piu Sik (Floating Colours) Parade, during which children appear to ‘float’ through the narrow streets of Cheung Chau Island

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Burning incense at Pak Tai Temple on Cheung Chau Island

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Massive incense sticks perfuming the air outside Pak Tai Temple

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Mother-and-daughter tableau at the Cheung Chau Bun Festival

Read the rest of this entry »


The Visual Feast of Hong Kong: Through the Lens of Hong Kong Fong, Part 1

Elder woman paying tribute at Man Mo Temple in Sheung Wan, HK

Paying tribute at Man Mo Temple in Sheung Wan

Dear PFAP readers – my name is Deb Fong (aka Hong Kong Fong), and I am honored to take on the new role of China Deputy Bureau Chief and Hong Kong Photo Editor for Pundit From Another Planet. Thanks to PFAP for such a kind and generous invitation!

An ‘ABC’ (American-born Chinese), I moved from New York City to Hong Kong with my husband, Mark, about one year ago. In just the past year alone, I’ve experienced what feels like a lifetime of events, a string of colorful moments. Along the way, I have begun to observe the visual feast that is Hong Kong, capture it in my own way – and now I relish the opportunity to share it with you.

Dried octupi in Sai Ying Pun

Dried octopi in Sai Ying Pun

Frolicking inside the walk-in fountain at Hong Kong Park

Frolicking inside the walk-in fountain at Hong Kong Park

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The LED light and recycled water bottle ‘Rising Moon’ installation at Victoria Park, commemorating the Mid-Autumn Lunar Festival

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Fierce dragon boat competitors race toward the finish line on Victoria Harbour

Fierce dragon boat competitors race toward the finish line on Victoria Harbour

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My favorite sprawling trees, along Hollywood Road in Sheung Wan

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A view from the top of HK’s iconic Victoria Peak

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Creatures watching creatures at Ocean Park’s aquarium, on Halloween Day (yes, it’s celebrated in Hong Kong, too)

Read the rest of this entry »


People from Other Countries List What Surprised Them About Coming to the U.S.A.

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With Helpful Commentary From An American, Yours Truly

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That’s quite a list!

First, lets touch on the ones that I, a native of the U.S.A., agree with, or can relate to. Then we’ll get to some corrections and minor disagreements. Lets begin!

Slang

Is slang unique to the U.S.A? That’s news to me! But, I can’t disagree. A product of diversity, poor public education & rich teachers unions, multi-linguistic confusion, terminal hipness, and bad manners.

Jogging

True! Not only does everyone in Boston jog — all 636,479 of them — everyone in America jogs. Every day. Even babies jog. Don’t you? We started in the 1970s, and the fad just never ended! We love it.

Huge serving portions, ice water, baby seats, baby strollers, giant cars, obesity, general safety, wastefulness, etc. 

Check, check, check, agreed, those are things many of us observe, too.

Sensitiveness towards race and religion

Those are two unrelated things, but linked by a common desire to not offend.

Sensitiveness towards Race 

Yes, it’s a touchy issue here. Well-intended people don’t want to offend, so extraordinary caution is the default position. The stakes are high. One could lose their livelihood, social status, apartment, friends, savings account, and library card, if they accidentally say the wrong thing. Especially when a recording device is on.

Additionally, the guilt narrative has been successfully transferred from one generation of innocent people to subsequent generations of innocent people, the actual guilty oppressors being inconveniently long-dead.

To complicate things, not-so-well-intended people sometimes like to indulge in fake outrage, pretending to be offended. Sometimes for self-amusement, other times to practice their grievance theater performance skills, other times to lay the foundation for serious litigation.

But the good news is, these rules only apply to native-born Americans. If you’re a first-generation U.S. citizen, resident alien, or visitor to the U.S., you’re granted honorary immunity. You can say goofy things that would otherwise be heard as loaded with offensive racial meaning, and it’s not taken personally. It’s a free pass. Enjoy it! Just don’t overuse it. They’ll eventually catch on, and make you feel guilty.

Sensitiveness towards Religion

Not so much! We’re quite free to mock religion! So long as it’s Christianity, Christianity, or Christianity. If it’s not one of those three, then we have to check with our cultural advisors first.

Okay, that concludes the agreeable things. Now, let’s get to work. These are things visitors should know!

Tipping

Even if it’s unfamiliar, or peculiar, by your standards, most of us are obligated to know some basic customs of places we visit. And enjoy learning that, as part of the travel experience. It’s elementary travel advice, and basic good manners.

Of course, you can do like many foreign visitors do, and pretend to be ignorant, as a perfect excuse to not tip. It’s worked for millions of our guests. Feel free to use this excuse.  Or, failing that, complain that ‘the math is too hard”, so you can tip less. Also, if you’re tipping the person who cut your hair, you’re getting your haircut at the wrong place.  Read the rest of this entry »


Another Reason to Admire Amy Adams


Happy Travelers: Detail from 1958 American Airlines Ad

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Source:  tumblr – Roger Wilkerson, The Suburban Legend!


What International Air Travel Was Like in the 1930s

1936:  Passengers enjoying a drink and a game of cards in the cabin of an Imperial Airways plane.  (Photo by General Photographic Agency/Getty Images)

1936: Passengers enjoying a drink and a game of cards in the cabin of an Imperial Airways plane. (Photo by General Photographic Agency/Getty Images)

Today we largely take international air travel for granted. Every major city in the world is little more than a hop, skip, and jump away. But what was it actually like to fly halfway around the world in the 1930s, when the very concept was still novel? Pretty incredible, as it turns out—provided you could afford it.

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At the dawn of commercial air travel, Imperial Airways was Britain’s shuttle to the world. As the British Empire’s lone international airline in the 1920s and ’30s, Imperial was responsible for showing the rich and famous every corner of the Empire. And in doing so, their mission was to make the Empire (and by extension, the world) feel that much smaller.

They did it in style.

circa 1938:  Sir Robert Hodgson arriving at Croydon from Paris on an Imperial Airways flight.  (Photo by London Express/Getty Images)

circa 1938: Sir Robert Hodgson arriving at Croydon from Paris on an Imperial Airways flight. (Photo by London Express/Getty Images)

Rough Take-off

During the WWI, airplanes became a vital tool for victory, ushering in a brave new world of battle. Airplanes were the future of war, but they had yet to prove themselves as the future of peace.

After the war, Britain had a surplus of warplanes that would jumpstart its commercial air industry. But the early 1920s was a hard period for British aircraft companies. Unlike their counterparts in France, Belgium, the Netherlands, and the United States, very little government investment in British air travel occurred during peacetime.

Instead, the government hobbled together the few struggling British air companies to form Imperial Airways, which was incorporated in 1924. Imperial was devised as a private, highly subsidized company that would operate with monopoly support from the British government. They shuttled mail and passengers to the farthest reaches of the globe.

 

circa 1937:  Imperial Airways plane 'Hanno' at Croydon aerodrome before flying to Paris at 7 o'clock.  (Photo by London Express/Getty Images)

circa 1937: Imperial Airways plane ‘Hanno’ at Croydon aerodrome before flying to Paris at 7 o’clock. (Photo by London Express/Getty Images)

Modern Tech

Imperial’s planes of the 1920s (made of wood and fabric) would slowly morph into the planes of the 1930s (made of metal). But it wasn’t merely because the streamlined aircraft looked sleeker. The newer planes also better suited Imperial Airways’ mission of Empire maintenance.

Read the rest of this entry »


How to Go Insane at Tokyo’s Best Gadget Stores

No trip to Akihabara is complete without an adventure through Yodabashi Akiba, shown here. - Ko Sasaki for The Wall Street Journal

No trip to Akihabara is complete without an adventure through Yodabashi Akiba, shown here. – Ko Sasaki for The Wall Street Journal

REST AND RELAXATION in Waikiki. A boys’ night out in Vegas. Gadget shopping in Tokyo. Most guys might choose the first two escapes, but I’ve been going to Tokyo every year for the past decade to seek out the newest gizmos—products that haven’t yet made it to the west or are simply too niche to ever be imported. In my travels, I’ve found tiny wooden speakers hand-carved out of rare Japanese cedar, silicone keyboards that roll up like a burrito and a Gameboy cartridge filled with 500 games that were never released stateside.

Some of the gadgets are brilliant solutions to urgent nerd problems; others will leave you dumbfounded. Don’t let the sillier products deter you, though. For every bewildering gadget you’ll find, a dozen more will be worth taking home. And, luckily for tech-obsessed tourists, getting around is easy: Most of the key stops are in the Akihabara neighborhood, on the Japan Railway’s Yamanote line.

Here are five of my favorite spots, as well as a few of the curios that I found on my latest trip. While you can buy some of these products online, there’s no substitute for making an actual pilgrimage.

More via WSJ.com