markets in everything
The room is the most expensive in America, beating out one at The Mark hotel, which previously held the accolade at $75,000 a night. And Empathy is also one of the world’s most expensive hotel accommodations, according to The Palms. (In fact, it’s potentially the most expensive: The Royal Penthouse Suite at the President Wilson Hotel in Geneva — at about $80,000 a night — was the world’s most expensive suite in 2018, according to Lonely Planet.)
…The room was designed by world-renowned artist Hirst and showcases a number of his well-known original pieces, like the iconic “Winner/Loser,” with two bull sharks suspended in formaldehyde.
Hirst — who is known for controversial pieces — also created a 13-seat curved bar filled with medical waste, and hanging above the bar is Hirst’s “Here for a Good Time, Not a Long Time,” which features a marlin skeleton and taxidermy marlin.
Here is more text and photos, noting that perhaps the high price is in part “advertising” so that major gamblers feel good when the room is comped to them?
This hypnotist charges half a bitcoin for helping you remember your lost cryptocurrency password…
“If you’ve got, you know, $100,000, $200,000, $300,000 worth of bitcoin in a wallet and you can’t get access to it, there’s a lot of stress there,” he says. “So it’s not just as simple as saying, okay, we’re going to go do a 30-minute hypnosis session and enhance your memory.”
Miller declined to specify the exact number of participants in his bitcoin password recovery program or how much money he’s recovered, citing client confidentiality. However, he says that there are currently “several people” in his program, who are experiencing varying degrees of success.
Generally, a person who created their password more recently will have an easier time unlocking this memory, he says. Likewise, a client who is feeling low stress will have an easier time remembering their password than one under high stress.
Miller is located in Greenville, South Carolina.
For the pointer I thank Nick Glenn.
Friedrich Hayek’s personal copy of Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations, complete with pencilled annotations by the champion of free market economics, is to go on sale as part of a trove of personal items being sold by Hayek’s family. Hayek’s typewriter, writing desk, photo albums, passports, a speech signed by former prime minister Margaret Thatcher and a set of cufflinks given to him by ex-US president Ronald Reagan are among the items set to go under the hammer in an online sale at Sotheby’s later this month.
That is from James Pickford at the FT, the Smith copy is estimated to go for £3,000 to £5,000, plus buyer’s premium of course.
German city seizes pug, sells it on eBay
The city of Ahlen seized the pug from a family as a way to settle the family’s debt. But the pug’s new owner is now suing the city, accusing it of giving a fraudulent description of the dog in the ad.
Here is the story.
I thank D. for the pointer, and I am told this is in Washington, D.C., here you go.
Looking to get yourself a present this Valentine’s Day? The El Paso Zoo has you covered. It will name a cockroach after your ex and then feed it to a meerkat live on camera.
You can message the zoo on Facebook with your ex’s name, then wait patiently for February 14 to watch the roach get devoured during the “Quit Bugging Me” meerkat event, which will live-stream on Facebook and the zoo’s website. The names of those exes will also be displayed around the meerkat exhibit and on social media starting February 11. The zoo calls it “the perfect Valentine’s Day gift.”
Advansun, 39, is a full-time “sleep writer” in Toronto. He writes with one goal in mind — to lull people off to la-la land.
Advansun publishes his bedtime stories for adults on the popular app Calm.com, where they are voiced by famous actors like Matthew McConaughey.
Calm.com says its roster of 120 sleep stories has been listened to more than 100 million times.
“I think we are putting a modern take to something that’s pretty timeless,” he says. “We are giving grownups permission to drift off to sleep to a story, and that’s not something a lot of people have thought about before.”
Advansun says the key is to get the attention of the listener and then “hold it gently” without ever jostling them awake. He maintains this is a tough balance to achieve … especially since Advansun is trained as a screenwriter (think plot twists, car chases and explosions).
“I certainly didn’t set out to write stories that put people to sleep,” he jokes. “I have sort of fallen into it, and I adore it. It’s not only quite rewarding, it is a great challenge as a writer.”
Nonprofit hospitals across the United States are seeking donations from the people who rely on them most: their patients.
Many hospitals conduct nightly wealth screenings — using software that culls public data such as property records, contributions to political campaigns and other charities — to gauge which patients are most likely to be the source of large donations.
Those who seem promising targets for fund-raising may receive a visit from a hospital executive in their rooms, as well as extra amenities like a bathrobe or a nicer waiting area for their families.
Some hospitals train doctors and nurses to identify patients who have expressed gratitude for their care, and then put the patients in touch with staff fund-raisers.
…it could make patients worry that their care might be affected by whether they made a donation.
Despite such concerns, these practices are becoming commonplace, particularly among the largest nonprofit hospitals. A 2016 survey of 108 hospitals found that 68 had grateful patient programs, according to the Advisory Board, a consulting firm.
Here is more from Phil Galewitz at the NYT.
Dozens of air traffic controllers are keeping Austin-Bergstrom International Airport functioning smoothly through the longest government shutdown in US history — and all without a paycheck.
Friday was the first payday since the shutdown began and while hundreds of thousands of federal workers can expect to be paid for the work they put in during the shutdown, they are not receiving paychecks until it ends. Tuesday marks Day 25 of the shutdown.
Austin pilots want to do what they can to help their aviation fellows who are affected by the shutdown.
“Those controllers have always had my back, during the normal flights and the rare times that I’ve had a slight abnormal flight that caused me concern,” Ken VeArd said, a longtime pilot.
VeArd recently posted on social media asking his fellow pilots to help him give back to ABIA’s controllers.
“I just made a post saying this is what I am thinking about doing and before I knew it, it just got out of control,” he said. “Whether you need diapers, milk or eggs, or even if all you need is a six pack of beer,” VeArd hopes it’s the small things that will make a difference.
He’s been buying $20 gift cards from H-E-B for the controllers.
“My biggest concern with this thing is that we try to do something nice for our air traffic control friends and it turns out to be a problem, we don’t want to make problems any worse than it is,” VeArd said. “So we capped it at $20.”
In a nation where people lead ever more busy lives and increasingly view their dogs as family members, professional dog walking is flourishing. And along with it is what might be viewed as the unusual art of dog walker communication. Many of today’s walkers do not simply stroll — not if they want to be rehired, anyway. Over text and email, they craft fine-grained, delightful narratives tracing the journey from arrival at the residence to drop-off. They report the number of bathroom stops. They take artistic photos, and lots of them.
“For an hour-long walk, I send six or eight, depending,” said Griffin, 44, who holds a treat in her hand when shooting to ensure her charge is looking at the camera. “Then I give a full report that includes not only peeing and pooping but also kind of general well-being, and if the dog socialized with other dogs.”
After walking a dog named Stevie Nicks earlier this year, Griffin’s blow-by-blow mentioned that the dog had collected a chicken bone from under a bush, then “crunched down on it and broke into 3 pieces.” At the end of another walk, Griffin related that she “picked the foxtails out of her little beard and mustache,” and explained precisely where the foxtails had come from — “the fence around the yard at the corner.”
Dog walkers’ notes are often more exhaustive than those parents get from the caregivers of their human children.
The article is interesting throughout:
“Ongoing, two-way communication is actually one of the most important components to a successful walk,” White said. “What we’ve heard from owners is the more details, the better. You can’t have too many details.”…
“All of our dog walkers have been really good communicators, but Perry wins the prize,” said Tucci, a nonprofit executive. His texts “are really are more logistical and poop-oriented than anything else. But they’re always so enthusiastic.”
…the business world has been increasingly aware of the genre’s potential. In 2017, PricewaterhouseCoopers, the professional services firm that advises 440 of the Fortune 500 companies, published a blueprint for using science fiction to explore business innovation. The same year, the Harvard Business Review argued that “business leaders need to read more science fiction” in order to stay ahead of the curve…
A number of companies, along with a loose constellation of designers, marketers, and consultants, have formed to expedite the messy creative visualization process that used to take decades. For a fee, they’ll prototype a possible future for a [corporate] client, replete with characters who live in it, at as deep a level as a company can afford. They aim to do what science fiction has always done — build rich speculative worlds, describe that world’s bounty and perils, and, finally, envision how that future might fall to pieces.
Alternatively referred to as sci-fi prototyping, futurecasting, or worldbuilding, the goal of these companies is generally the same: help clients create forward-looking fiction to generate ideas and IP for progress or profit. Each of the biggest practitioners believe they have their own formulas for helping clients negotiate the future. And corporations like Ford, Nike, Intel, and Hershey’s, it turns out, are willing to pay hefty sums for their own in-house Minority Reports.
That is from Brian Merchant on Medium.
Parents who give up their phones during dinner will be rewarded with free meals for their kids at one U.K.-based restaurant chain. For the first week of December, Frankie & Benny’s is running its “no-phone zone” campaign in an attempt to improve family interactions at the dinner table.
The promotion was announced following a study that the Italian restaurant chain ran earlier this year, where they studied the dinner table behavior of over 1,500 people. And the results were staggering—almost a quarter of the parents admitted to not only using their phones during mealtime but that they did so while their kids were talking about their day.
Here is the full story, via Tadd Wilson.
The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has paid $424,000 to insure itself against a significant drop in tuition revenue from Chinese students.
In what is thought to be a world first, the colleges of business and engineering at the university signed a three-year contract with an insurance broker to pay the annual six-figure sum, which provides coverage of up to $60 million.
The university came up with the idea in 2015 and implemented it last year but received permission from the broker to discuss it in public only earlier this month.
Here is the story.
I recently spent several weeks in the slum districts of Nairobi, researching al-Shabaab’s criminal activities in the Horn of Africa. I expected to learn about the traditional criminal practices of terrorist groups: drugs, arms, money laundering, and perhaps even a regional particularity like sugar smuggling. What I wasn’t expecting to discover was a highly structured, hierarchical network in which sex workers sell information gleaned from their customers — specifically, corrupt police officers — to al-Shabaab. As one interviewee noted, “If you want information here, you use the prostitutes and street kids — they see everything, go everywhere, and nobody notices them.”
The strength and depth of this sex worker-militant network surprised me and many terrorism experts in the West I spoke with, but it’s an open secret among Nairobi residents. My first interview subject didn’t understand why I wanted more details — surely everyone knew about it? Many of my interviewees were neighbors of, or otherwise friendly with, the sex workers involved. They described an arrangement in which al-Shabaab offered money to women who picked up interesting information in the course of their regular sex work — pillow talk from politicians, police officers, and businessmen. One local memorably opined: “Of course! Half the reason these men go to [sex workers] is to complain about their lives. Why not get paid for listening?”
Here is more from Katherine Petrich.
Previously, she has made dairy products from the perspiration of Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg.
Here is the full article. And:
In one exhibition, [Sissel] Tolaas captured the armpit sweat of severely anxious men from Greenland to China, recreated their individual smells and painted them onto the walls of the installation. (“There was a composite odor of anxiety that just infused the whole room, and it was really unhinging,” said Howes, who saw it in Basel, Switzerland). After the smell of fear, Tolaas recreated the smell of violence from cage fighters in East London. She has recreated the scents of Berlin’s famed Berghain nightclub, New York’s Central Park in October, World War I, communism and the ocean. Her shows are immersive and emotional in a distracted world. They aim to grip audiences right by the lizard brain.
Tolaas also invented 1,500 “smell memory kits” — abstract odors that have never been smelled before. When you want to remember an event, you open the amulet and inhale, sealing the moment in your emotional core. For the London Olympics, she made a Limburger cheese sourced from David Beckham’s sweaty socks, which was served to VIPs.
File under “Department of Why Not?”