In a new book, Tom Bower suggests Virgin Galactic may never achieve space flight. Though some of his claims are a bit alarmist, Bronson’s space program still faces major safety issues.
Will Richard Branson’s long-touted rocket ride into space via his Virgin Galactic enterprise ever happen?
A new book, Branson Behind the Mask, by investigative reporter Tom Bower (to be published by Faber & Faber on February 6) casts serious doubt that it will.
In fact, there is little in Bower’s book that is not already known about Galactic’s dismal record so far. Branson presents an easy target because he has so frequently over-promised on his bid to introduce so-called space tourism.
The first passenger-carrying flight was supposed to happen in 2007. The date then slipped to 2009…2010…2011…2012…2013…and now to later this year.
If you have a Tesla Model S.
Burn your plane ticket, it's high time for a road trip. All you need is a map, suitcase—and Tesla Model S. The car manufacturer just completed a network of 73 charging stations that fully traverse the country, dotting the route from Los Angeles to New York, according to CEO Elon Musk. The free, fast-charging pitstops powers the battery of the company's famous Tesla Model S. Musk says an estimated 80 percent of Americans are covered by the stations, and Tesla has plans for a similar blanketing in Europe, where it has 14 stations currently. By the end of the year, Tesla hopes that superchargers will be installed throughout Belgium, France, Austria, Italy, Spain, and the UK.
Not everyone can watch the epic face-off in person on Sunday. For Seahawk and Bronco fans across the country, we’ve rounded up the best bars to bask in your team’s glory…or defeat.
Each year, avid NFL fans organize their stats, draft their fantasy players, and set aside their Sundays to watch their favorite teams battle it out for a spot in the annual Super Bowl. This year, the two teams vying for the coveted Lombardi Trophy are the Denver Broncos (15-3) and the Seattle Seahawks (15-3). Putting it lightly, Super Bowl XLVIII is sure to be exciting, as the top offense in the league (the Broncos) will be facing off against the top defense (the Seahawks). Where will you be watching the legendary action happen?
While not all superfans will be able to see their teams in action at the MetLife Stadium, we’ve rounded up the best bars in top U.S. cities for Bronco and Seahawk fans to watch the epic battle. Kickoff is at 6:30pm on Sunday, February 2.
Now book your safari to Botswana.
Choosing your next travel destination can be a stress-inducing project—beach or mountains? Explore a big city or go off-the-grid for a digital detox? How are you supposed to choose?
AFAR media has just announced the launch of its annual “Experiential Travel Awards.” Whether readers are interested in finding the best river cruise (Orient-Express Road to Mandalay), a dream remote beach destination (the Maldives), or a domestic getaway (try Jackson Hole, Wyoming), AFAR has curated the best travel experiences for 2014. With a judging panel composed of a 13-member travel advisory board made up of high-end U.S. travel agents and an extensive survey of readers, the AFAR awards have named winners in 23 categories, ranging from best street food and nicest locals to best overnight flight and best international airport.
The awards are accompanied by the announcement of a major design refresh for the magazine debuting in the March/April issue.
Don’t limit your Super Bowl trip to the inside of MetLife stadium. From fine dining to alternative (and boozy) art tours, get a little culture before football madness begins.
On Friday, out-of-towners will start pouring into New York City for America’s annual spectacle of beer and aggression—the Super Bowl. But before watching the Seattle Seahawks face off against the Denver Broncos, get a little culture—and a little more zen—by checking out one of New York City’s best assets: its museums.
Even if you’re not a true art aficionado, the city’s museums are a great place to experience a wide selection of the great things Manhattan is known for: the food, the culture, and the history. From trend-setting apps and boozy tours to amazing restaurants, you’re sure to make your trip even more exciting.
Appreciating the Art:
The Museum of Modern Art was one of the first museums to introduce their own iPhone App—complete with audio guides. It took a while for people to catch on, but it has now set the standard for the museum guides of the future. Sayonara, archaic headset devices. If you are looking for something guaranteed to cut through the professional jargon and give you a more simplistic explanation of the artworks you’re seeing, then go for the unofficial MoMA: Unadulterated audio guide. Employing “experts from kindergarten to fifth grade,” it is sure to cause some chuckles.
While many of us are stuck in the boomerang of the polar vortex, we are dreaming of St. Barts, the land of magnificient beaches, hiking trails, and restaurants.
by Lee F. Mindel
Saint Barthélemy, my annual winter respite, is my favorite of the Caribbean islands. Its beautiful landscape and coastline are matched only by its fascinating history. Discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1493, St. Barts was invaded by Carib Indians, colonized by French sailors in 1763, sold to Sweden by King Louis XVI, and then reacquired by France in 1946. The island finally gained its independence in 2007, though it remains an “overseas collectivity” of l’Hexagone.
How hipster enchiladas could change the way America thinks about food.
Not long ago, OC Weekly editor Gustavo Arellano publicly announced that Tex-Mex cuisine—the greatest use of sour cream, shredded cheese, refried beans, and flour tortillas known to man; the driving force behind thousands of suburban fajita factories all across America—was dying out.
“Tex-Mex for decades was ascendant,” Arellano told the The Weekly Alibi in 2012. “It was the dominant player, [but] I would say that California won the Mexican war. You’re going to have many more restaurants selling tacos and burritos then you do Tex-Mex. ... And, yeah, you’re going to see Tex-Mex slowly disappear from the American landscape.”
Arellano isn’t just some loudmouth on the Chowhound message boards. He is the author of Taco USA, a smart, lively, deeply reported history of “how Mexican food conquered America.” Which means he is something of an authority on the subject. When Arellano talks, in other words, taco people (like me) tend to listen.
Toronto is notorious these days for the antics of its mayor, Rob Ford, but there’s a quieter literary side to the city as novelist Sheila Heti reveals.
In her Toronto based novel, How Should a Person Be?, Sheila Heti transcribed a conversation between herself and her real-life artist friend, Margaux Williamson, leaving just a duologue and removing all sense of the how and the where.
It would be difficult then to consider the 37-year-old’s most successful book to be a reflection on place, but it is. Even with this intermittent chopping of prose, Heti has a strong appreciation of life in the most populous city in Canada—the place where she was born and continues to live. It is, in fact, a book that deals almost entirely with the intricacies of being in Toronto. Or perhaps more specifically, of being ‘Sheila’ in Toronto.
As an author, Heti’s credits include two novels, a collection of short stories, a children’s book and a book on “conversational philosophy”, but she has also been prolific in several other forms: she has a post as interviews editor at Believer magazine, she began a local lecture series where guest speakers talk about subjects outside of their expertise, and in 2013 her full length-play, All Our Happy Days are Stupid was performed in Toronto to sell-out shows.
It seems Sheila Heti has got to that point that successful authors can get to when they write about the place in which they live. The point where the city knows them as well as they know it.
Thanks to the current deep freeze, a chain of sea caves on the Apostle Islands are visible for the first time in five years.
It seems the current deep freeze across the north may have some benefits. For the first time since 2009, an icy wonderland is accessible in Wisconsin. Those fearless enough to hike the two miles across a frozen Lake Superior will arrive at the hidden sea caves of the Apostle Islands 18 miles west of Bayfield. But even then, you’re not quite there. “You’re looking at these beautiful rock formations, but they’re covered by stalactites and stalagmites made of ice,” Bob Krumanaker, Apostle Islands National Lakeshore superintendent, told Wisconsin Public Radio. “And then if you carefully crawl under some of that ... the ice is completely smooth and generally completely clear underneath it. So, it’s like there’s a glass floor that you can see the bottom of the lake," he said. You’ll enter a “fairyland of needle-like icicles.” We’re not sure what’s more frightening: having ice move below our feet, or hanging around needle-like icicles. But we’re pretty sure it will be worth it.
There's nothing like a remote trek through Morocco to help you find freedom and peace of mind…especially when the day ends with Berber whiskey and a delicious lamb tagine.
It had taken the camels and their black-turbaned Berber herders four long days to walk from the Sahara. When we met them, the dromedaries’ panniers were being loaded with everything we needed for a three-day hike in Morocco’s High Atlas mountains: blankets, wicker stools, water drums and—bliss—an endless supply of Moroccan pastries.
Our guide, Mouha, glanced up at the trail that disappeared far into the ochre uplands. “Time to start walking,” he said. “Yella! Let’s go!”
The sun was lowering over the peak of Jebel M’goun and a two-hour hike still lay between our camp, a lamb tagine, and us. So, I followed this fleet of the desert along an old mule path, out of the Valley of Ikamdoulen and up into the M’goun massif.
Camp on the Tatarart pastures, High Atlas mountains, Morocco. (Joanna Eede)
With over 200,000 people attending this year, India’s Jaipur Literature Festival can claim to be one of the biggest in the world—and certainly the most fun. Vijai Maheshwari reports on the big speakers, controversies, and hits from this year.
Asia’s largest literary festival kicked off in Jaipur, India, last Friday, with over 200,000 people thronging the various stages of the 17th century Rajput-built Diggi Palace in the center of the “pink” city. Free from the controversy that dogged 2012’s festival, when Salman Rushdie canceled his trip because of death threats by Muslim fundamentalists, this year’s festival has a more relaxed, bohemian vibe. Speakers at the prestigious festival include Jonathan Franzen, Gloria Steinem, Novel-prize winner Amartya Sen, Jhumpa Lahiri, Reza Aslan, Jim Crace, and memoirist Ved Mehta.
Looking relaxed in a grey puffer vest, Franzen joked that it was hard writing for an American audience grown used to “sitcoms with laugh tracks.” He admitted that he instead preferred “cold, dark, silent spaces” which helped him focus his mind. Meanwhile, Pulitzer Prize-winning Indian-American writer, Jhumpa Lahiri created a stir when she declared that American literature was “massively overrated” and its reading habits “transformed by the mainstream.” She was in Jaipur to promote her latest novel, The Lowlands, a tale of two brothers set in Calcutta of the 1960s, during the Naxalite uprisings.
American feminist Gloria Steinem was a big draw at the festival, with huge crowds at her talk on the parallels between the American and Indian women’s movements. With India going through a late-birthing feminist movement in the wake of the recent spate of violent rapes, there’s a renewed interest in America’s successful struggle for women’s rights in the 1960s. Steinem praised India’s feminist movement, saying that it “goes back hundreds of years” and had ‘”personally influenced her.” She spoke as part of a new series of talks called Women Uninterrupted, which are an effort by the Jaipur Literature Festival to include more strong female voices in its lineup. Other speakers from the forum included American writer Cheryl Strayed, whose bestselling book about a solitary hike on the 1100 mile long Pacific Crest Trail, is now being made into a film, Wild, with Reese Witherspoon. Audiences also packed a session on Women Writers of the Islamic World, which included Shereen El Feki and Fariba Hachtroudi.
The biggest crowds, however, came for Indian Nobel Prize winning economist Amartya Sen’s speech, in which he made seven wishes for a better India. These included a desire for a strong, secular right-wing party, and a greater role for the arts and humanities in contemporary India. The Iranian-American writer, Reza Aslan, who was demonized by Fox News last year for his recent biography of Jesus Christ spoke to a packed hall. “Americans don’t understand why a Muslim would write about Jesus,” said a Delhi journalist. “But then haven’t many Westerners written about Mohammed in the past?”
You don't have to fly to Paris or London to see fine art—we have plenty right in our own backyard. Here are five U.S. exhibits, installations, and murals that are worth a weekend trip.
The Lightning Field, Walter De Maria
Western New Mexico
THE ART: High on a remote plain in the New Mexico desert, Walter de Maria's seminal land-art installation is difficult to reach (really, we mean it), but worth the effort many times over. Walking through the grid of 400 stainless steel poles as it reflects the light at sunrise or sunset—with 360-degree views of the surrounding landscape—is mind-altering.
From a submerged Bar Refaeli to a Mediterranean idyll, a voyeur’s look at the stars’ sun-soaked scenes.
Russia’s sketchy justifications for moving on Crimea call to mind a century’s worth of false or flimsy excuses great powers have used to justify invasions.
The bouillabaisse is just as tasty, but Europe’s 2013 Capital of Culture now has a lot more to offer. Anna Watson Carl reports.
More than a natural wonder, Cappadocia's formations have been a safe haven to many. Nina Strochlic reports.
Tony Wheeler, co-founder of Lonely Planet Publications, remembers the fun early days of travel guide writing, but says they're not over yet.
Miley Cyrus’ fav new haunt is Beacher’s Madhouse, the craziest club in Los Angeles.
Take the vacation of a lifetime—in beautiful North Korea? That’s Uri Tours’ pitch. Lloyd Grove reports.
In ‘Mapping Manhattan,’ explore the city via 75 New Yorkers’ personal geographies. By Allison McNearney.